It was going to be an excellent day. The sun was shining, the sky was clear, the grass had never been greener… Heck, it was a Saturday. There was nothing that could possibly get in the way of Tulvir enjoying such a fine afternoon.
“Defender-sama!” An unfamiliar voice with a very familiar accent caught his attention. Ah yes, something that was going to get in the way of his fine afternoon. Of course.
So much for biking down Mt. Everest on a tricycle… Tulvir thought dryly, turning around to see who was calling him.
“Hmm?” He looked the courier in the eye, failing to hide that he was bothered by the interruption.
“I am sorry to bother you,” the young man said sheepishly, emphasizing how poorly Tulvir had masked his emotions. He really needed to work on that, “Amaterasu no Ookami-sama sent me to tell you that she wants to see you – it is really urgent, so please come quickly.” He looked like he’d been running around all day looking for Tulvir – and it was possible that he had been. The Defender didn’t understand why he was so hard for couriers to find.
“Amaterasu did?” Tulvir asked in surprise, raising an eyebrow. The boy nodded hurriedly. The Defender rarely interacted with the Goddess of the Sun. He nodded, curious what could possibly make her ask for him.
“Alright, kiddo. I’ll head right up.” Tulvir said, disappearing in a swirl of fire. There was a flash of light, followed by darkness and a loud thud. Tulvir groaned in pain, having botched his teleportation yet again, landing flat on his face. He needed Tsukaea to give him some more lessons on this “Elusive Arts” nonsense, because it was impossible. Luckily, there was no one around to see his spectacular failure, so the only laughter was from Yanderux and Elthek, which he was used to.
“Nice.” Elthek snickered.
“Fuck you, too, asshole.” Tulvir snapped.
“You shouldn’t curse in a temple, Tulvir.” Akreluto chimed in disinterestedly.
“Whatever.” Tulvir huffed in irritation. Akreluto sighed, choosing to ignore the reply and continued reading his book. Tulvir finished brushing himself off, straightened his tie and walked up to the temple. He had passed by a few times before, but he had never really stopped to look at it. It was truly a magnificent sight, with red trim and polished wood. There were tall, burning torches standing upright where estates and manors would have had regular lights, shallow bowls of burning coal to light the interior halls.
But it was starkly empty this particular day, and Tulvir knew for a fact that that was strange. Normally, even when he was just passing by, he would see several young angels attending to the gardens outside, refilling the coal bowls, and etcetera. Today, there wasn’t a soul in sight.
He pushed opened the doors to the throne room, finding the God and Goddess who lived there – Tsukuyomi and Amaterasu. The latter looked to be in mild hysterics, though she composed herself well as she approached the Defender.
“Tulvir-sama,” she greeted with a brief curtsy, which he returned with a shallow bow of his own, “It is good to see you, though I wish it could be under better terms.” She took a great, shuddering breath before breaking the news, “Susano’o, my younger brother, has been taken.”
Tulvir didn’t reply right away, the news hitting him like a ton of bricks. He took a few minutes to process the information.
“What?” He finally blurted out, praying to Chaos and Order both that the couple would burst out laughing at the joke. Unfortunately for him, they didn’t. A God had been … God-napped? How was that even possible? It would have to have been another God or Goddess – there weren’t any demis, demons, or angels with enough juice to sack a God. There was a stir inside him – Akreluto and Elthek were perking up with interest. It was strange, at that moment, how still and silent Yanderux became. Tulvir was immediately suspicious, but didn’t try to pry at that moment.
“He has been taken,” Tsukuyomi confirmed, wrapping an arm around his wife’s shoulders, “We do not know what happened, exactly; Susano’o has a separate estate that he spends most of his time at, and it has been completely destroyed. There was obviously a battle there, but we do not know how something so catastrophic could have taken place without anyone noticing…” He trailed off, looking somewhere between defeated and angry. His question was a good one – how could a battle between two God-level entities take place without making a sound?
Tulvir frowned and closed his eyes. He ran through the list of everyone he knew, drawing only a blank. He couldn’t think of anyone who could be behind this, having dueled the storm god before. He unconsciously summoned Shadowfang and Azurewrath to their sheaths on his belt. Given the current situation, they were very comforting to have at his sides.
“Could you tell me where his estate is located?” Tulvir asked, already formulating hundreds of strategies and scenarios. Already, his mind was being clogged with doubt and fear. He took a breath, clearing his mind, determined to get to the bottom of this.
Tulvir stared. The shock he felt at the carnage before him was uncontainable. There was no estate in sight. Only a disturbingly large battlefield, splatters of blood and black ooze, scorch marks, shrapnel and huge chunks of what could only be the remnants of Susano’o’s home.
“What in the hell…?” Tulvir whispered. He was the Defender, Primary Chief of Warfare and Military Tactician. He had seen post-war battlefields before – the aftermaths of blitzkrieg invasions, air raids, war fronts, he’d see it all. But the level of destruction before him made most of those look like a teenager’s bedroom. Clearly, Susano’o had put up a fight, barely holding back. Even when he had sparred with the storm god a few thousand years ago, the aftermath hadn’t been this bad. He expected to see something like this after an all out war between the Six Ancestors – not in the aftermath of a God-napping.
And then there was the area… it only expanded about as far as the edge of Susano’o’s gardens. There must have been something keeping him from getting away. Gods had pride, certainly, but none were foolish enough to not recognize a lost battle when they saw one. Susano’o would have tried to run, and he would have been trapped. He looked down at the splatters of blood on the ground. There was a lot of it. He’d been beaten badly, and was probably still injured, wherever he was.
Tulvir shook his head to clear the image of the God’s battered body lying somewhere and composed himself. He glanced at Tsukuyomi and Amaterasu.
“Did anyone see the battle and live to tell the tale?” Tulvir asked. If he could get a general idea of what the fuck happened, it would make tracking the target a hell of a lot easier.
“No,” Amaterasu conceded, “No one else comes here but Susano’o. This is where he goes to escape from everything and everyone. All we know for certain is that he has been missing since yesterday afternoon at the most, since that is when he left the Temple of the Sky to come here.”
“I had a feeling the was the case…” Tulvir replied, cursing under his breath. He resisted the urge to summon his equipment and conduct a full forensic investigation. He instead called for his best investigator, Rillith. If anyone could get to the bottom of this in under a day, it would be her.
“I’ll call for-” He began, before a familiar, snarky voice appeared from nowhere.
“You called, boss?” Rillith asked with a cocky smirk. Tulvir closed his eyes briefly to calm his urge to slap that cocky smile off her face.
“I need you to process this battlefield. Return to me with a full report of all your findings.”
Rillith frowned as she looked around at the carnage, “What happened?”
“Susano’o was somehow God-napped. Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi can debrief you later. I’m going to go see if I can pinpoint his location the hard way. In the meantime, get that report together and put the Grim Incarnation on standby. This is a code Black.” He explained, eyes hardening.
Rillith’s eyes widened; the Defender hadn’t called a code Black since the previous war against Axeer and Obsidikar, three-finite years ago. She nodded grimly, understanding.
“Yes sir.” She said grimly, setting to work immediately while relaying the message to Ragnar via the enchanted earring the Grim Incarnates were provided. Tulvir turned to the couple standing nearby, not letting the sight of a mildly-hysterical Sun Goddess get to him.
“Rillith and I will take it from here. I’ll report back anything I find. In the mean time, please be careful,” he warned, “It would be wise to assume whoever did this has you two marked as well. If anything happens, give me a call immediately.” Tulvir bowed shortly in farewell and left.
“Well,” a voice spoke from the darkness of a cellar. The walls around her were stained red with blood, scorches against the floor marked where her prisoner had briefly struggled. A black ooze formed puddles on the floor, some smeared from bodies being dragged through them. The whole room was all spiderwebs, shadows, and sticky wetness.
“It looks like he’s gotten the memo,” she purred, running her thin fingers through the fur of the eviscerated cat corpse laying at her side. “Perhaps I should wait a little longer before letting him find me… It might be best to tame you properly before heading out to battle, nee?”
There was a crackle of electricity that spun through the air away from her, illuminating sky blue eyes that didn’t belong to her. The God of Storms writhed in his prison, crying out in pain from his wounds, “Release me! Let me go!!“
She chuckled softly, extending a hand and summoning up powers that didn’t belong to her. A shock of lightning spun from her fingertips and burst against the far wall, leaving another black scorch mark, “Settle down, Susano’o.”
“Please… let me go…” A tired whimper, and he fell silent once again.
Where the fuck is he?! Tulvir couldn’t help the low growl that bubbled out of his throat. He pinpointed the God’s location several times, but all of them had been busts. He closed his eyes and gave himself over to the flow, searching for any signs for the God’s energy or dimensional residue that may give him a clue. After a few minutes Tulvir couldn’t contain himself any longer. He stepped over to the nearest tree in the park he had landed in and sat down, closing his eyes as he settled against the roots and allowing himself to be taken into his Inner Mind.
“Yanderux?“ Tulvir called, making sure to keep his voice even. The Titan appeared out of the darkness, smirking. Akreluto and Elthek didn’t take much longer to step out of the shadows and approach him.
The Titan in question snickered, before he let out a laugh, “Yes, dear?” He replied mockingly, and it was then that Tulvir felt the raw excitement rolling off the blood-crazy Ancestor. He did know what had happened, or rather, who had happened. Tulvir took a few deep breaths, allowing his energy to spill out into the area. It silently voiced his anger, at the same time that it was loudly swirling around them. The Titans were never particularly intimidated by Tulvir’ shows of anger and power, but Akreluto (and sometimes Elthek) at least respected when they had touched on his last nerve.
Imitating the dark, calm tone that the Goddess used when she was furious with someone as best he could, Tulvir asked the question that had been burning in his mind since he learned of the God-napping.
“What are you hiding from me, Nidhoggr Yggdrasil?” Tulvir knew how much Yanderux hated being called by his full name. He braced himself for the retaliation that always followed such “name-calling.”
Elthek and Akreluto were as quiet as Tulvir was as the question sank in. Obviously, the other two Titans didn’t know what secrets their brother was hiding, either. That only infuriated Tulvir more, a loud shock of lightning brightening up the area.
The inside of Tulvir’ mind was, among other things, a mess. Yanderux was often chewing on bits of his memory – some things that were important, some things that weren’t. Akreluto was forever pushing more information around by thinking of things on his own and learning by observing more closely than Tulvir did. Elthek, on the other hand, was always storming around and reacting on his temper – when he was bothered or angered, he would smash around in the darkest corners of Tulvir mind. He would break apart thoughts, emotions, and memories, in much the same way that Yanderux devoured them.
The result was often devastating for Tulvir when he saw it. It had been peaceful in his mind once, but now that they had pushed around so much of his memories and experiences, there were things he should remember that he didn’t anymore, because Yanderux had taken them from him. There were cluttered thoughts that didn’t belong because Akreluto wouldn’t stop adding his thoughts to Tulvir’.
All in all, while Akreluto was helpful and kind to him, Elthek was always good for a spat, and Yanderux gave him the best battle advice when he was truly cornered, Tulvir would give up his status as a God to have peace and quiet in his mind again.
“Ha! No, I think I’ll let you figure this out on your own, you sorry brat,” Yanderux spat, his temper spiking and bringing out his crueler tendencies. “The only thing I’m going to tell you is that this time, you’re dead for sure! And I’ll be getting a free ride out of this shitty place!“
Tulvir clenched his fists and seconds later, both were encased in flames, blasting everyone with intense heat. Yanderux only smiled at him, as if daring him to try it.
So that’s how you wish to play, huh? Tulvir already knew that attacking Yanderux never got him anything more than a seven week, debilitating migraine, but he was literally at the end of his very short tether.
“So you really think it will be that easy to get… out…?” The meaning behind Yanderux’s words hit him. The flames vanished as Tulvir paused to really think about what had been said.
Yanderux stiffened, obviously realizing exactly the same thing that Tulvir was. He didn’t say anything, only glared hatefully at his keeper.
The silence was so thick, one could cut it with a knife. All eyes were on Yanderux.
“The only way you could get out is if this someone knows the Great Seal of the Six Ancestors, and how to break it properly. Otherwise, if I die, you die as well. So how would you be able to get free?” Tulvir asked, scowling. He felt doubt worming its way into his brain. He did not like where this was heading.
“Alright then, fine,” Yanderux finally conceded, but his taunting smirk didn’t fade. In fact, it widened into a grin, and he laughed again, “This foe of yours does know the Seal of the Ancestors, as well as how to break it. She’ll rip you to pieces, and I’ll do the honors of preventing my brothers from helping you in your pointless battle to free the little Storm God.“
That was it. Yanderux knew the person who had taken Susano’o, but there was no way the Titan was going to tell him who “she” was. Akreluto bristled at the insinuation, his eyes narrowing.
“I don’t think even you could hold back both of us, Yanderux. Don’t underestimate me or Elthek.”
Yanderux scoffed at the remark, but didn’t say anything. Either way, that bastard Titan was going to get in Tulvir’ way when he embarked on his battle. He would need backup, but he didn’t want to risk anyone weaker than him.
But I really don’t want to go to her for help…
“-oss… Oi! Boss!” Tulvir heard Rillith calling him as he exited his mind. She stood there, looking rather annoyed with an umbrella over her head. It was pouring down rain all around him. He looked up at her, noticing how soaked he was.
“Hey boss, I have the report ready.” Rillith told him, tossing him the report. He caught it and looked it over and frowned.
“Blew up the lab again? God damn it…” Tulvir sighed as he looked at the report. His eyes widened when he saw the results of the tests. When pitted against Ragnar’s energy, the black-ooze overwhelmed it easily, possessed it, and then exploded out of the secured testing portion of the lab and went after Ragnar. If it hadn’t been for some very quick thinking on Agarath’s part, he might have lost his Second-in-Command. The loss of the lab was suddenly the least important part.
“Is Ragnar alright?” Tulvir asked suddenly, looking up at Rillith as the rain finally started to subside.
The woman frowned, “Obviously. He got the shit scared out of him, but he’s fine. Agarath’s making sure there’s no lingering possession-…”
“Wait, he was actually possessed?”
“No, and if you let me talk I would tell you that,” she grumbled, “I said he’s fine. It got on him and tried to get into him but you know how resistant he can be.”
Tulvir breathed a sigh of relief, though he was still worried. He had encountered possession-type energies when he fought Karun. He growled when he saw that his sister had been notified.
“Did you have to get Tsukaea involved?” He groaned. Rillith shrugged.
“Agarath couldn’t identify it, and Tsukaea was my only option. Not my fault you suck at magic.” She replied as she tilted her head to dodge the rock Tulvir flung at her.
“Alright, take this to Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi. Also, get everyone spread across all realms at full alert. If they see anything suspicious, have them notify me immediately. Do not engage in combat, for the suspect is extremely dangerous.” Tulvir said. Rillith frowned.
“How dangerous can this person be?” The assassin asked.
“Dangerous enough to raise concern for my personal safety, if Yanderux it to be believed. According to him, this being knows how to remove the Great Seal.” Rillith visibly flinched at the insinuation.
“Yes sir.” She bowed, and vanished. Tulvir leaned back thoughtfully, pondering were to start looking.
If the black-ooze is hell-based, it would probably be best to start there… Tulvir mused. He closed his eyes, and teleported himself to Hell with a burst of fire.
The Underworld was, as usual, full of “life” and movement. He arrived directly in front of the Court where he knew Vaedin would be. The Devil was, among other things, a workaholic. Tulvir couldn’t understand how anyone could be so devoted to their work. He walked up to the doors, which eased open automatically at the interaction of his presence with the spellwork around them.
Vaedin’s Court was everything that no one would expect. Rather than cool colors, silver, and black, the whole place was filled with deep reds, gold accents and rich, dark wood. Tulvir looked around, unable to keep himself from admiring the tasteful decorations as he headed for Vaedin’s personal study.
He came to the door to the study, turning the knob slowly. “Knock knock,” he called as he stepped inside.
Vaedin looked up at him, looking slightly really frazzled, “Tulvir,” he greeted. He wasn’t seated at his desk – in fact, it looked like he was about to rush out the door at any minute, “I hope you can make this quick, it seems like the Underworld is collapsing in on itself again today.”
Tulvir frowned. This wasn’t exactly what he was expecting, but perhaps it was related to Susano’o’s God-napping.
“I came here to notify you that I am going to take a look through the Underworlds. To put it bluntly, Susano’o got God-napped. I’m looking for whoever did it, and recent investigations point towards the Underworlds.” Tulvir explained. He summoned a copy of the report he got from Rillith and placed it on Vaedin’s desk.
“Here is a copy of the report, if you want to look it over when you get the time.”
Vaedin halted suddenly in his desk-destroying frenzy and stared at Tulvir for a long moment, “Susano’o was…” he trailed off into silence, his eyes darkening, “I… Well, if you’re looking for clues, I can take you to the place that seems to have started this mess,” he gestured briefly at the piles of papers on his desk, “There was a security breach yesterday morning, in Niflheim, not far from the Depth of Tartarus. There was a… tomb there, a long time ago. So far as anyone knows, the tomb was still there yesterday. But now, it’s gone, and so is the being that was sealed within it.”
Vaedin ran a hand through his already disheveled hair, before grabbing a book off one of his shelves and opening it to a certain page near the end. Without remorse, he ripped out several pages and handed them to Tulvir, “This is all the information that was ever written about that tomb. It was recorded by one of the Six Ancestors – Anectem. Supposedly, she went up against Nidhoggr Yggdrasil in order to seal away this being, but you should read the whole story. It might help. I’ll take you to the tomb, now, if you like.”
Tulvir glanced at the pages Vaedin had handed him and slipped them in his pocket. He would look at them later.
“Please do, this needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.” Tulvir stepped to the side, allowing Vaedin to lead the way.
Niflheim was deserted. A black smog filled the area, so thick that Tulvir at first thought someone had used Dusk. Tulvir swallowed; the smell of decaying corpses was so thick that it made him want to hurl. It didn’t help that it was so overpowering that he could taste it as well. The air was very humid and felt dirty, as if he was wading through a large pool of mud. It was quiet, too. So quiet that he feel like he was the only being in existence. It was always somewhere between sunset and twilight in Hell, but here it was dark due to the smog. Tulvir squinted and was able to make out the tomb through the darkness. The tomb look rather plain, minus the pieces of rubble from when it had been blasted open.
He could just barely make out the Draconian runes on the smashed bits of rock laying around – time had eroded them, making it difficult to read. He picked up one of the slabs and examined it.
“Judging by the cleavage, this was blown up from the inside.” Tulvir mused. He examined the runes that he could make out.
“You… will be… free?” Tulvir translated aloud. He frowned, recognizing the handwriting immediately. He closed his eyes and stepped into his Inner Mind.
“Yanderux?” Tulvir called out. Yanderux, for once, didn’t reply to his call right away. After several minutes of dead silence, he began to wonder if the Titan would come out at all. Akreluto and Elthek stepped out of the shadows together, but there was no sign of Yanderux. Either he was just too embarrassed about his little love-slab being found, or he was genuinely not interested in talking for once. A pounding headache started being Tulvir’ eyes, but he ignored it, letting out a sigh of discontent.
“Yanderux? Where are you, bro?” Elthek called, looking confused and irritable, but there was still no reply. Tulvir’ headache intensified, but it seemed more like a personal warning – “I don’t want to talk. Go away.” That was the impression he was getting from it, anyway. Tulvir frowned, knowing something was wrong.
“What’s wrong, Yanderux? I just have a question to ask you.” Tulvir asked cautiously. The way the Titan was behaving was something he had never seen before. Yanderux was a crass jerk who would never pass up an opportunity to be insulting, so for him to be hiding somewhere was strange. The lengthy pause that followed Tulvir’ call was tense and slightly awkward. He felt like he was playing hide-and-seek with a five-year-old of Destruction.
“I don’t have any answers,” Yanderux’s disembodied voice finally floated out of the shadows behind Tulvir, Elthek, and Akreluto. They turned, looking for him, but he didn’t seem to have any intention of actually revealing his person. “So go away.“
Tulvir cocked an eyebrow. Clearly Yanderux knew something, but had no interest in sharing with the class.
“Unless it’s something you are really uncomfortable with, I don’t see whats wrong with sharing the purpose of the note here…” Tulvir was tempted to tease Yanderux, but he knew it probably wasn’t a good idea at the moment. He ran over everything he knew so far and tried to formulate what was going on, but kept drawing blanks.
There was another very long silence. Yanderux was probably either considering his options, gathering energy to punt Tulvir out of his own head, or straight up ignoring him. Elthek crossed his arms and let out a noisy sigh. Akreluto shifted his weight, glaring into the darkness where they assumed Yanderux to be.
Finally, the pale Titan stepped out of the shadows, and he looked somehow less rabid than usual. His usual grin was completely wiped from existence, and his eyes were sharp and angry, as opposed to the normal blood-crazed look. It was… weird to see him looking cold and calculating.
“Perhaps the star of the classroom just doesn’t want to share,” his voice was cutting, “It’s not going to help you find the little Godling and that vorenaak, anyway. You’d best leave it alone.“
Tulvir took a moment to digest that. So the one holding Susano’o was parasitic in nature. That explained the slime’s behavior when tested. At the same time, Yanderux seemed… tense, as if he were expecting something to rip his face off suddenly.
“What’s wrong? You were ecstatic when the news first reached us. Now you seem nervous, for lack of a better word.” At this point, he was getting worried. If this being could make Yanderux nervous, then he had a really bad feeling about the fight that now seemed inevitable.
Yanderux’s eyes narrowed, “I’m not nervous.“
“That was convincing,” Elthek chimed in, “About as convincing as a-…“
“Hush, Elthek,” Akreluto cut him off smoothly, shutting up the youngest brother immediately.
The oldest Titan bristled at the insinuation, but didn’t take the bait. He kept his gaze on Tulvir, a deep, smothering look that chilled the Defender to the bone. Whatever Yanderux was hiding, Tulvir could tell that he wasn’t going to get it out of him. At least, probably not right now…
“I had forgotten,” the Titan suddenly said, his gaze averting to a dark shadow to his right, “About that promise. They say Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, you know.“
Without another word, and without giving anyone a chance to ask what the Hell he was talking about, Yanderux turned away and stepped into the shadows, his presence fading back into the darkest crevices of Tulvir’ mind, where he seemed to have set up shop for an indeterminate amount of time. Akreluto stared after him, a brooding look on his face.
“What the hell was that about?” Elthek did the honors of asking the obvious question, as he often did.
“I don’t know, but I have a bad feeling about this. There is one person I can think of to go to… Though I was hoping to bullshit through this without getting her involved…” Tulvir sighed in defeat.
“However, there is one more place I want to check… I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this woman was hiding somewhere opposite of where we would expect her…” Tulvir mused, deciding that he would head up to check out the Upperworlds before going to his sister for help.
Tsukaea felt her spell kick into gear the moment Tulvir went to teleport. She felt where he had been heading originally – the Upperworlds. Of course, he’d be inclined to check the least likely locations. It would be just like him to try the obvious places. She could’ve rolled her eyes at his lack of tracking experience. Well, that was why he had hired the likes of Torl and Rillith. He was a God, but even Gods weren’t perfect at everything. Tulvir was better suited for battle and suchlike – the menial tasks like finding the enemy wasn’t his forte.
She opened her eyes after the gentle pull of her magic stopped, watching as Tulvir stumbled out of what would probably have been his best teleportation in the past ten million years if she hadn’t interfered in it. As it was, he tripped over the spot where he had expected the ground to be (there was a stack of book there instead) and smashed his face into the side of a table on his way to the ground.
“Whoops, sorry about that,” Tsukaea stated as her greeting, getting up from her seat at her cluttered desk and walking over to help him to his feet. “You were doing such a good teleport too, I feel bad for getting in the way of such a lovely spell. Since you’ll never do it again, I’m sure.”
A bloody hand was the only thing that censored the string of Draconian curses that flew out of Tulvir’ mouth.
“Thanks for the broken nose, reym,” Tulvir didn’t even try to hide his annoyance. No matter what was going on, or how happy he was, it only took one word from his elder sister to irritate him. “Why don’t you just call me next time, instead of rudely interrupting me like that? You have my number, don’t you?”
“I lost my phone.” And in the ridiculously cluttered, messy space that his sister lived in, that wasn’t a difficult thing to imagine. “I thought I left it on my desk, but I think it’s on the floor so we’ll probably never see it again.”
“Interesting, coming from the so-called ‘Master of the invisible artist’s nonsense’.” Tulvir commented dryly. “Why don’t you just summon the stupid thing? That can’t be to hard for an Einstein like you right?”
“If I tried summoning it, the magic would ruin the phone,” she replied, her impatience with her brother beginning to show, “And it’s called “Elusive Arts,” you pea-brained barbarian.”
Tulvir rolled his eyes at her, and she snapped her fingers, using her magic to throw every single pen and pencil in the room at her little brother. He yelped, trying and failing to block the projectiles with his bare hands. He wound up covered in welts and red marks. Normally, Tulvir might’ve used Azurewrath and Shadowfang to defend himself (even if it was a bit of overkill), but there was a spoken law that anything with a blade must be kept sheathed in Tsukaea’s office, because “I will fucking destroy anyone who messes up my mess.” Fortunately, he was somehow used to getting hit with ballistic pens.
“Anyway, I didn’t summon you here to argue,” Tsukaea bustled about suddenly, flicking a hand at her brother and instantaneously healing his broken nose and the other minor injuries he’d sustained since arriving. That was how it worked. Tsukaea would somehow be the cause of injury to Tulvir, but she never failed to heal any wounds she caused.
“This woman you’re looking for – found some stuff out. You’re very lucky that Rillith decided to send me the report and the samples,” Tsukaea thrust a folder labeled “god damn it” into his hands, and then went about tearing apart her desk in search of something.
“I’ve been able to sort of track her movements – there’s a very peculiar pattern of teleportations and interdimensional residue. I think she’s following you, actually, but from a distance. Which is creepy, but whatever,” Tsukaea pulling a heavy book out from underneath a tipped over chair, “A-ha! Okay, I was doing some digging into the origins of that tomb, and I found something, but this all happened so long ago that there’s barely a scrap of documentation so I couldn’t find much. I gather the Elderly of All weren’t into writing shit down. Where was it… right, so, from the scraps I was able to piece together, the being in that tomb was named Alysigga, or Alice for short. Her name only comes up in a couple of passages in unpublished books by no-name author’s who wrote sort of like Lewis Carroll. Like, here, listen:
You can sense the night bending
The rhythm is slowed but deep
The bitter taste of temptation
The sweetness of self-destruction
Blackened tips of death and decay
She cannot keep out of her reach
Alysigga will come out and teach
A lesson to those with wings
And it’s raining, storming
Angels and stars are falling from the skies
And the wind, the wind is cold
She will be waiting
For the day she will surely rise.” Tsukaea glanced up at Tulvir to make sure he had followed her words.
“The fuck does that mean?”
“I don’t friggen know, but they’re all like that. Just limericks and poems and short children’s reject-stories from Viking era Scandinavia. Alysigga was sealed away so long before humans existed that the Gods still weren’t writing shit down, and yet somehow humans knew enough to write these half-baked stories that sound like bad acid trips,” she flitted about her study some more, pulling things out and dumping other things.
“So what do you have in mind, regarding the possession?” Tulvir asked, frowning deeply, “I have to stop this girl, but I really don’t want to go back to the Sun Goddess and tell her that I accidentally killed her little brother.”
“I don’t know,” Tsukaea admitted, “I’m not wholly familiar with this kind of possession and how it works and stuff, so I need to go digging some more and finish fucking with this gunk. I might have to contact my Master and see if She knows anything. In the mean time, be careful. Don’t get oozed on.”
“You wanna not word it like that?” The younger brother grumbled, before getting serious, “Anyway, on my end – I had the the Grim Incarnation put the Underworlds and Upperworlds under a code Black lock down. I’ll modify the original order and have them report all findings to you as well. They are under orders not to engage the enemy if encountered and monitor all entrances and exits between the dimensions to limit interdimensional movement. I’m hoping to drive this person into a situation where it will be easier to ambush her.
“I’m expecting movement from the remnants of Axeer and Obsidikar’s men, so don’t be surprised if they move to attempt an improvised combination of heavy artillery and blitz attacks. If possible, I plan to have my men move across the field to prevent any attempted sniping and keep a no-fly zone around the area.” Tulvir bombarded his sister with the tsunami of information. He closed his eyes, placing two fingers over his earring and quickly coordinated his men in position to prepare for a counter attack, notifying them of the updated orders.
Tsukaea nodded, never once losing track of her brother’s words as he spoke entirely too much. She pursed her lips, looking across the room at what might’ve been an altar to sacrifice virgins to the dead, or just a regular shelving unit.
“That’s the other thing I wanted to mention to you, actually. I had a large number of Axeer’s men under my close supervision – as in, I knew about them and was monitoring their movements, just in case,” she said, expression grim. “I had several dozen under threat-watch, and another hundred or so under regular supervision.”
“Yea, and? I have a bunch of them under supervision, too. I’m sure we’ve even overlapped on some,” Tulvir responded flippantly, “What’re they planning now?”
“Nothing,” Tsukaea replied, her gaze still. “They’re all dead. I can’t even find any others, if there are any. Bodies completely eviscerated, drained of all their life force, souls nowhere to be found, and their bodies decayed far too much considering how long they’d been dead. I think she’s been wiping them out and devouring their souls like a proper demoness, although I don’t think a regular demoness would have the juice to take out as many of Axeer’s men as fast as Alice has.”
Tulvir’ eyes widened, knowing how strong even the weakest of the mardukans were. A single one could easily take down a Seraphim. If this Alice was strong enough to obliterate a theater of them in less than seventy-two hours, he couldn’t even imagine how strong she was when she was really trying. He closed his eyes and relayed the news to his men.
“Was there a trail? Or was this a phantom attack?” He asked.
“Kind of both?” Tsukaea replied, walking over to some kind of contraption with moving parts – it looked sort of like a mobile, one of the ones that used gravity and inertia to keep it in constant motion, but her’s was moving much faster than a normal one would. “There’s a short trail to and from the victims, but it doesn’t seem to lead much of anywhere. I’m trying to keep track of all the pocket realms she’s coming in and out of, but she’s jumping around faster than Saeka when she’s in a hurry. It’s not just Axeer and Obsidikar’s men, either – she went through and slaughtered her way through at least few hundred demons in Hell less than an hour ago – they haven’t finished the body count yet, so far as I know. I assume she’s gorged herself on enough to last her for a moment, so she’s hiding out until the food coma wears off or something.”
Tsukaea turned to her brother, looking serious and a bit worried, “She’ll wipe out Hell at the rate she’s going, so you’d better deal with this PDQ.”
Tulvir nodded. “I will. If you need help tracking the dimensions she hops through-…”
“I already called Agarath and Khrai. They’ll probably be here soon.” Tsukaea cut him off unabashedly.
“Alright then, I’ll head down to Hell. If what you say it true, it would be wisest to assume that she will reappear there.” Tulvir said, handing his sister a Grim Incarnation communication earring. “Although I don’t like doing this: I, as founding father and head of the Grim Incarnation shall temporarily give you the position of Secondary Supreme Commander: You will have the authority to call out orders and move Grim Incarnation soldiers as you see fit. I trust you won’t get them killed. Depending on how you do, I may even give you an honorary position as head of the magicks division.” He sent out the news to his men, then turned to walk out, pausing at the door. “Anything else I should know?”
“Yea,” Tsukaea muttered as she poured over some book, “You should know how to teleport properly. But we can save that for another day.”
He flipped her off even though she couldn’t see him.
“Sure thing, badger cunt. You know how to contact me if something comes up.” He said as he left the room.
Somehow, Hell was even more chaotic than it had been six hours ago, when he’d last visited. There were sirens in the air, winged demons flying every which way, huge portions of housing completely obliterated… it was a complete mess. Grim Incarnation foot soldiers were scrambling around, doing their best to help with damage control. He could faintly hear yelling and screaming in the cities below the cliff he stood upon. He turned around to face Vaedin’s Court, eyes widening in horror – Tsukaea hadn’t mentioned the Court being attacked as well.
There was a huge, blackened hole in the side of the building, as if a giant Fire Demon had taken a large bite out of it. Already, someone was coming out, and Tulvir immediately recognized Tacitus, Vaedin’s only personal assistant.
“Apologies for the mess, Tulvir,” Tacitus greeted breathlessly, “My King isn’t currently in the Court, but I’m acting as his proxy right now. Is there anything I can do to help you?” Tulvir nodded. The King of Hell had chosen a good kid to be his ‘second-in-command’, so to say.
“I need a full report of what happened, damage, casualties, everything there is to know. I only just found out about the attack, but based on what my sister told me, it isn’t pretty. I’m here assuming that whoever is behind this is going to attack here again.” Tulvir replied, “And two other questions: first, have you heard anything from Yajova? And second, where is Vaedin?” He didn’t know why, but he had a bad feeling about the answer to the second question.
“The report hasn’t been written yet, Tulvir. I haven’t had time and it’s not like I have anything to write down yet, other than ‘we were attacked.’ Yajova has sent down a number of Angels to heal our wounded, but I haven’t actually seen him yet. And…” Tacitus paused, and Tulvir’ heart leaped into his throat, “My King is currently in the Dark Garden’s hospital, receiving treatment for his injuries. He’s in pretty bad shape, but they said he should pull through. That’s all I know on his condition, so far.”
Tulvir clenched his fists angrily. He liked the King of Hell, he was a good person to talk to when he wasn’t buried under paperwork. He closed his eyes and forced himself to calm down, processing the information. He would probably wind up having to change his strategy after all. “Alright, I’ll take a look around and see what I can find. I hope the Grim Incarnation has been helpful. Before I head out, is has there been any developments that I should be aware of?” He asked, formulating millions of different plans in his head.
Tacitus smiled weakly, “The Incarnation has been very helpful, and no, there hasn’t been anything new. At least, not that I’ve been made aware of. Vaedin would know, but… well, when he wakes up, I’ll be the first to know, and I can have someone inform you.”
Tulvir nodded appreciatively, “Thanks, I’ll be going then. Keep your men on high alert. I have a very bad feeling about this.” On that happy note, Tulvir sprouted Draconic wings from his back and took to the sky. He scanned Hell, trying to look past the chaos and ignore the cries of pain below, instead connecting to the flow of the realm, looking for any abnormalities.
After about half an hour of searching and coming up with very little, he felt his ear heat up a bit. One of his men was trying to contact him. He landed on a busy street in one of the residential districts and put two fingers on his earring.
“This is Tulvir. What’s up?” He greeted.
“Hello, Tulvir,” His blood froze in his veins at the sound of an unfamiliar and very malicious voice, “I hear you’re still looking for me. Having no luck, too, even though I left you so many bread crumbs. It’s a shame, your little mage wouldn’t have had to meet me if you all weren’t so incompetent.”
Tulvir’ aura thickened, and his energy spilled free of its restraints as he rage quickly built.
“Pardon?” He asked, his voice dripping with venom. Already, his mind was blanking as he felt the powerful desire to strip the flesh from her bones with an rusty butter knife, and other brutal, inhumane ways to torture and kill the sow on the other end of the earring.
“It’s me, sweet thing – Alysigga. I had to borrow this lovely communicator from your pet fae just to get in touch with you, so you should be polite and come when I call. You can sense him, right? I think his name was Agarath? I’m literally sitting on him, so why don’t you come on up and see me?“
Was? Tulvir shivered, his irises changing to Draconic slits. By this point, his energy was visible as the air thickened with his rage.
“Sure, wait right there, vorenaak, and I will gladly rip the flesh from your body.” He replied, voice low and dangerous. He severed the connection, and teleported to Agarath’s location with a much more violent than usual burst of bluish flames.
Alice was standing by the time he arrived, though his gaze immediately settled on Agarath. The young man was lying face down on the destroyed floor of what had once been a park. Nearby he could see destruction wrought upon a city, humans gathering to see what had happened, police and fire officials trying to keep them behind the yellow tape. Sirens in the distance, a distinct sound of a crying woman, anguished screams of pain from someone who must’ve survived the battlefield… all of it was blocked out by the sight of Agarath’s motionless form, the scent of blood in the air, the smile on Alice’s face, the sheer hate for this awful stain on creation twisted loosely with concern for his friend’s life.
Tulvir’ energy spilled out around him, crackling in the air and tearing up the ground around him. Azurewrath and Shadowfang pulsed violently, as if the light and dark that they were made of wanted to jump at Alice and devour her alive. He tried unsuccessfully to calm himself.
“Why are you doing this?” He asked, mentally bracing himself for the answer – or, more likely, the lack of answer.
Alice chuckled briefly, then threw back her head and laughed outright. Tulvir had to fight the urge to ram both his zweihanders through her chest and tear her in half. She settled down, her eyes finding his, and it was then that he noticed something strange – her left eye was a lovely sky blue. The exact same color as Susano’o’s.
“Someone very close to home made me a lovely promise,” her expression darkened, smile slowly disappearing, “A long, long time ago. Yanderux, why don’t you tell the sweet boy who I am?”
Tulvir felt Yanderux stiffen at the sound of his name, and silence fell over the field.
“Yanderux?” He called, his internal voice betraying how tense he was. Whatever it was that Yanderux was so worried about, whatever it was that had been making him nervous, it was standing right in front of him. This was the cause for that concern, but who was she?
“Yanderux, who is this person? You have to tell me. It might be the last decent thing you ever do.“
“That’s exactly how you convince Yanderux, Tulvir.” Elthek said dryly, “Just guilt him right into it.“
“Shut up, Elthek,” Yanderux’s voice was, for once, a relief to hear. Tulvir felt tension wind itself alongside the anger he still felt, “Her name is Alysigga. She’s the daughter of myself and your aunt Anectem.“
“You got laid?“
“Shut up, Elthek.“
“Right. If that’s true, is it even going to be possible to kill her? If she is the daughter of two of the Six Ancestors, isn’t she immortal?” Tulvir asked. He had a feeling he was right, but it never hurt to be sure.
“Of course she’s immortal, you fool. But then, so are you. And yet, it would be no difficult feat for her to kill you.” Yanderux snapped, “I’ve never started a battle offering you help, but I suppose this is the exception of the lifetime. After all, she’s not going to be freeing anyone, today. She’s just aiming to kill you, and thus me as well.“
“This will also be the only time I honestly say this to you: thanks. I won’t expect you to help me ever again in the future.” Tulvir said with a small nod. “Does she have any weaknesses?“
Yanderux fell silent, and Tulvir had a bad feeling immediately, “None that you’ll be given an opportunity to exploit.” He finally said, “She’s a being of darkness – her weakness is Dawn. But you need two point six-four seconds to charge that, and once this chance to chat with me is over, she won’t give you any more spare time.“
Tulvir’ over thinking suddenly popped up out of nowhere, “Wait, if she’s a being of darkness, couldn’t I absorb her through Shadowfang or something if I had someone to keep her occupied?” It was a strange idea, but there was a slight possibility it could work.
“Not if you have any intention of saving the Storm Godling.“
“You’re not still talking to him, are you?” Alice’s voice cut into his conversation with Yanderux, and his attention snapped back to her. He had almost forgotten how much he hated this wench in his conversing with Yanderux. “At this rate, your pet human is going to bleed to death. I thought you wanted to save him.”
Okay, that’s enough of her annoying voice. Tulvir didn’t even say anything, simply flicking his wrist and launching a bolt of fire at the wench to distract her. He shot past her to Agarath and quickly teleported him to the Grim Incarnation infirmary. He brought his swords up instinctively when he felt the air shift beside him, criss-crossing the blades over his back to block against the lightning-enhanced fist that came crashing down on his back. He glanced up, made a quick calculation, and yanked the handles of his swords down over his shoulders. He felt her hand move away from his back and turned lightning fast to swing the blade at where he had expected her to be, only to find that she had jumped back too far for him to reach. It was a bad swing, but it had worked as he hoped; she was far enough away for him to take a proper battle stance.
He assessed the situation. trying to formulate a good attack plan, considering their location. He wouldn’t be able to use Annihilation, or much of anything for that matter. This battle would have to be won with two swords, a good strategy, and a lot of luck.
Just as he was about to make his move, he heard Yanderux holler in his head, “Behind you!!“
Eyes widening in surprise at Alice’s sudden lack of presence, he turned entirely on Yanderux’s suggestion, swords up in a swing, but she wasn’t there.
“Shit, I don’t remember her being this fast, Tulvir,” Yanderux said, and he could feel the Titan searching around the field of their battle for her energy signature, alongside Akreluto and Elthek. They’d lost her?! She had no reason to run, which could only mean…
“Phantom. She must be going for phantom attacks. Keep your eyes open.” He knew he didn’t need to add that last part, but then again, it never hurt to be safe. He closed his eyes, connecting to the flow of the mortal realm, searching for any waves that may be coming for him. He listened with his soul, and their was an eerie silence among the destroyed park. As if she had literally just ditched.
“Tulvir,” Akreluto’s voice was calm, but it held a commanding tone that he only heard when the Titan was in his field of expertise, “Lend me your eyes.“
Tulvir didn’t even argue. It was Akreluto, after all, who had saved him with this methods when he fought Ilros, the False God. “I can’t see her in the Flow, but you might have better luck.” The young God opened his eyes, allowing Akreluto’s still, unsettling energy to flow into his eyes and take over his vision.
“There is another way,” the second Titan said, and Tulvir’ vision began to darken. “Be still,” was the quiet command. He waited, in the strange, complete darkness that seemed too complete to be called blinded. He didn’t know what Akreluto had done, but it was… uncomfortable.
“I cannot do this for long, Tulvir – not while I’m sealed in your body. You will have to make this as quick as you can.“
His vision returned like a surge of power to his pupils, and it seemed like everything was moving… slower. Much, much slower. He blinked, realizing quickly that Akreluto had done something to the flow of time around them. Or something along those lines, perhaps. He would have to find her as quickly as he could – time-based spells were taxing, and if Akreluto had to hold it very long he would start draining Tulvir’ energy as well.
“She’s behind you,” Yanderux said, “Turn and swing, Tulvir.“
Tulvir spun around as time slowly started to regain speed again. He quickly brought his swords up and, as if he were swinging for a home run, swung with all his strength. His swords cleaved into her waist. He heard Azurewrath and Shadowfang cry out in joy as the blades met flesh. His eyes narrowed as her blood – just as black as her hair – sprayed out of the wound, splashing across his arms and swords. She managed to pull herself back in time to avoid being sliced completely in half, but the damage was still severe. She landed messily, almost going to her knees as she clutched at the gaping wound in her waist.
“Good job,” Akreluto praised him, his voice sounding a little faint.
Tulvir could sense Akreluto’s fatigue, “Thanks, Akreluto. Go sit on the bench for a minute and catch your breath.“
Akreluto chuckled tiredly and he felt the presence of the middle Titan slip back into his subconsciousness.
“Damn, dat swing though.“
“Shut up, Elthek,” Yanderux snapped, “You’re no… n… what’s going on? What’s…” Suddenly, Yanderux’s voice fell away from his consciousness, and Tulvir felt his heart twist in a mixture of horror and panic when he felt the invasive presence of something trying to possess him, and it most certainly wasn’t one of the Titans.
The black ooze.
“Fuck…” was the only thing he had time to say before he dropped to one knee. He felt his consciousness rapidly being replaced with the sound of shrill laughter.
No… I did not fight this long and sacrifice so much to die here… The laughter got louder, as he struggled.
“Weren’t you going to protect everyone, little Godling?” Alice’s voice echoed in his head, “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure your little army comes after you soon enough.“
Tulvir stiffened. Images of the first war flashed through his mind; awakening to the sea of bodies that had once been his brothers and sisters in arms.
No… I will not go through this again… I will protect everyone this time… The rage boiled up through him, tension building like a volcano right before eruption. A moment later, his energies suddenly exploded outward violently, taking the form of bluish flames that licked at his body and tore into the ground around him.
“I’ve had enough!” He roared, “This ends now!” Fire engulfed him as his rage poured out of his body in the form of his power. He felt it when the Draconic features he had inherited from the Titans started to form across his body. His wings sprouted from his back, a bone-spiked tail forming behind him, first of fire and then of flesh. His pupils shifted into slits, his eyes wild with hate and anger, patches of scales appearing on his arms and neck. He felt the possessive ooze evaporating off his skin as the flames danced across his body and swords. The invasive presence was forced violently out of his mind. He was vaguely aware of the Titans returning to awareness moments later.
Elthek was breathless, and Tulvir was faintly aware of the scent of fear from the youngest Titan, “Holy shit, we almost lost Yanderux.“
“I’m… hmm… nngh…” Yanderux groaned somewhere in his subconscious, strangely close to the surface of the Great Seal he was imprisoned by. The Seal itself felt… fragile, but it didn’t seem like any of the Titans were particularly excited about jumping out of Tulvir’ body right at that moment. Then again, given the current situation, none could blame them.
Alice was standing several yards away, her face twisted into a grin that reminded him sickeningly of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. She didn’t seem particularly bothered by his ability to overcome her possession. He would have to fix that. He would have to make sure she regretted her parent’s ever finding enough lust between them to procreate.
Yanderux’s daughter’s blood was still dripping from her wound, the color and consistency of ink. It held a rancid odor to it, like rotting flesh and decay. If looks could kill, she would’ve been sublimated instantly due to the sheer hate contained in Tulvir’ gaze. He calmly returned to his battle stance and waited for her to make her move.
Her grin only widened, “You’re mistake, sweet thing, not mine.” She crouched down into a runner’s pose, a violent reminder of Saeka, his hired psychopath. His eyes narrowed, and she chuckled. He watched the muscles in her thin body stiffen, and she was suddenly moving. He brought his swords up in a defensive pose, intending to block her lightning claws with his swords and try to drain out some of her dark energy with Shadowfang while burning her spirit with the light energy of Azurewrath.
When she suddenly twisted around him and someone yelled or screamed or whatever that horrible, jarring sound was, he suddenly recalled that there were people standing relatively close to right behind him. He knew that if he didn’t do something, innocent people would die and the last thing he wanted to do was drag innocent beings into his fight. He shot back and, arms extended outward, took the attack head on. He screamed as the bolt of lightning she had charged tore into the lower left side of his ribcage, splitting into a thousand pieces of electrically charged, needle-like energy that went off in all directions through his body, tearing and burning everything they came into contact with. Pain ricocheted through his body – he barely wanted to inhale because it hurt.
But, at the same time, the quality of that energy was… familiar to him, even if it was corrupt and broken and blackened with evil. He knew it from somewhere. Of course, at that moment, considering the level of pain he was in, remembering everyone he ever fought who had lightning-based attacks was impossible. But he would have to keep going. If he tried to run, she wouldn’t let him anyway.
So, through his blinding pain, Tulvir straightened up, heaving and gasping.
“We’re gonna fucking die, aren’t we?“
“Shut up, Elthek,” Tulvir replied breathlessly. He needed a plan. But, as she rushed towards him again, taking advantage of his moment of weakness, it was beginning to become clear what the main difference in their fighting prowess was.
Alysigga, simply put, was older than him. Whether she was stronger or not was irrelevant. She had more experience. She fought dirty. She didn’t hesitate, and she didn’t need to think of plans – what to do simply came to her. She must have spent a lot of her time fighting before she was sealed. He blocked and defended as best he could, but he was running out of ideas that he could even consider using.
“Yea, we’re fucked.“
“Elthek, I swear to Chaos,” Akreluto had resurfaced, and the fatigued tone of voice he had been using before was gone. He had rested enough to satisfy himself, apparently. He sounded urgent, but careful in his tone of voice. “Tulvir, hold on a little longer. Help is on the way.“
“Help better be on the way, ’cause otherwise we’re fucked.” Elthek muttered unhelpfully. Seriously, sometimes he just needed to be quiet.
“Who?” Tulvir asked. Just then, a blast of energy came down, forcing Alice to pull back from her onslaught of attacks. Tulvir, slightly dazed, continued moving backwards until a familiar hand grabbed his arm roughly and the uncomfortable feeling of magic swirled around him.
“Oh,” he stated dumbly as blackness overcame his vision.
It was warm, it was quiet, and it was rather bright, even behind his eyelids. Tulvir opened his eyes blearily and looked around.
“The infirmary. We meet again.” Tulvir muttered lethargically. He blinked, waiting for his eyes to adjust. To his right, he could see Agarath, lying prone and still on the white sheets that only made his paleness look paler. He was heavily bandaged and looked like hell, but he was alive and that was what was really important. Beside his bed was Khrai, who looked to be sleeping in her chair, a cast around her arm, gauze taped to her cheek.
He frowned unhappily. Those two weren’t supposed to have been dragged into this mess.
“Look who’s up,” he heard alongside the sound of the door opening. He looked over at his sister as she stepped into the room. “Just in time, too, because I was gonna start smacking you if you weren’t awake when I came in.”
“Morning to you too, Kaea.” Tulvir mumbled, trying to will his cells awaken with no success. “Did I miss anything important?” He asked
“Uh, yea,” Tsukaea replied, “I guess. I mean, I don’t consider humans important like you do, but I suppose I should tell you that the city you were fighting in got blown sky high after I made off with you. She also made a meal out of Hell again. So I’ve warded it like you’ve never seen me ward before. Also, good fucking god what happened to your Seal?”
Tulvir closed his eyes. So his sacrifice was in vain after all.
“Alice smashed it with the magic equivalent of a nuke, trying to attack Yanderux directly. Which reminds me, I never heard him after that… I should probably check up on him sooner or later…”
“Yea… about that. Now’s not a good time. Tomorrow’s probably not good either.” Elthek suddenly said in a very suspicious tone, “We’ll get back to you on Yanny.”
Tulvir blinked, questions filling his mind. He delivered Elthek’s message to his sister, who raised an eyebrow skeptically.
“He’s injured, isn’t he?” She asked, and Tulvir knew she wasn’t talking to him.
“NO. He’s not. Tell her he’s not, Tulvir. Cuz he’s not.“
Tulvir’ laughter was cut short by a stab of pain as he delivered the obvious lie. He just hoped Yanderux wouldn’t mentally punch him in the face later.
“Heavy sigh,” Tsukaea walked over to him, holding up a hand, “I’m going to invade your privacy now, if you don’t mind.” He opened his mouth, barely managing to start speaking before she touched his temple with two fingers and jumped into his mind.
“As always, its a fucking wreck in here.” Tsukaea stated, hands on her hips, “Guys, show me the corpse.“
“You wanna give me a better warning next time you jump into my brain, reym?” Tulvir grumbled as he joined the Titans and his sister.
Tsukaea pointedly ignored him as Elthek stepped out of the shadows, looking incredibly cagey, “Why’re you here?” He grumbled, “Totes not invited.“
“Nice to see you, too, Ellen. Where’s Yanderux? Akreluto can’t do healing magic, but I can and I’m willing to help.” Elthek spluttered at her nickname, glaring at Tsukaea as she continued, “So show me to my patient.“
Tulvir managed to keep a straight face at Elthek’s new nickname. “Take us to Yanderux, for his sake.” He requested, “I’ll bet 20 bucks that when we fight her next, she’s going to target Yanderux again. She’ll probably kill him on her second attempt, which would suck for everyone.“
Elthek’s expression darkened, “She could try.“
He didn’t say anything else, instead turning away from them and stepping towards the shadows again. Tsukaea exchanged a look with her brother, before following after the youngest of the three Titans. There was a pool of light surrounding Yanderux and Akreluto – probably a light spell to help the middle child see what he was doing.
“I don’t know why that took you so long, Elthek.” Akreluto stated dully, “Were you busy blustering again?“
“Shut up,” was the grumbling reply.
Yanderux was, to say the least, a mess. Tulvir had never seen him so bloodied up – not even in the aftermath of the battle he’d waged with pretty much the entire Reality the one time he’d possessed his host. Tsukaea immediately got down on her knees besides the oldest Titan, holding her hands out over his chest. A soft blue light enveloped her hands and, after a few seconds of silence, Yanderux’s wounds started to close.
The silence stretched as everyone watched, waiting for Yanderux to awaken, or at least show some sign that he wasn’t a corpse. Tulvir sent a silent prayer to Chaos; if Yanderux somehow wound up dead from his wounds, fighting Alice would be a serious pain in the rear.
After what seemed like a distressingly long amount of time, Yanderux made a quiet noise that could’ve been described as either a whimper or a groan. Tsukaea looked up from her concentration to get an index on his state of consciousness (or lack thereof). Tulvir smiled and let out a breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding. He looked on expectantly, hoping the Titan would awaken soon.
“God, enough with the suspense, you ass! I know you’re awake!” Elthek hollered, startling everyone, including Yanderux. The oldest Titan’s eyes flew open as he sat up quickly, very nearly colliding heads with Tsukaea.
“Shuddup, Elthek,” Yanderux grunted, reaching up a hand to rub at his eyes. He looked around at all the faces surrounding him, “A little claustrophobic in here, isn’t it?“
“Be quiet, you ogre, you nearly died.” Akreluto said impatiently, “Lie down, she isn’t finished healing you.“
Tsukaea jabbed a finger into one of his open lacerations, “Yea, listen to your brother, you twat. And Elthek, one more word out of you and I will tell you things about Yanderux’s sex life that you don’t actually want to hear about.“
Elthek’s eyes widened and he covered his ears, running off into the darkness of Tulvir’ mind.
“What the actual fuck, Kaea, why do you know about his sex life?” Tulvir asked, already dreading the reply.
“I don’t. But Elthek don’t know that for shit.” She replied, prodding Yanderux several more times until he shrugged her off and lied down obediently, “All he knows is that I’ve been reading up on Yanderux and am the one who uncovered his secret lovechild’s origins.”
Tulvir, Yanderux, and Akreluto exchanged glances. They silently agreed that questioning Tsukaea’s knowledge had indeed been a mistake. Tulvir quietly forged a chair from fire and sat down, content to simply watch whatever events would transpire next.
“How do you keep getting in here, anyway?” Yanderux asked, still looking embarrassed by Tsukaea referring to his daughter as a “secret lovechild.”
“Well, it’s a combination of magic and Akreluto letting me in.” Tsukaea explained as she went back to her healing, “Mainly Akreluto letting me in, though.“
Tulvir gave Akreluto a look – the traitorous bastard! The Titan coughed, turning away from the attention.
Tulvir shook his head, allowing his mind to wander to Alice. He still needed to think of a plan to defeat her. He already knew that Dawn was the key, the only problem was giving her something to do while he charged Azurewrath. He sighed and figured it would be best to hold a council meeting once Yanderux was more or less in one piece again.
“Y’know, I could also just go into battle with you,” Tsukaea suddenly said, bringing Tulvir out of his thoughts. Her back was still to him, and he stared at her. What the hell, she couldn’t mind read, right?
Tulvir sighed as he remembered where they were; in his mind. He felt like in idiot for forgetting that one fact.
“You think you can keep her occupied long enough? She’s a dirty fighter. The only reason she beat me earlier is because I was trying to protect innocent people. Once I start charging up, she will immediately target me after blasting you into a star or something.“
“Actually, kid brother, she beat you because she’s stronger than you. And you’re forgetting one major fact,” Tsukaea stated, lowering her hands and standing up, “I fight dirty, too.” Tulvir sighed yet again. It sucked being one of the few beings who actually fought honorably.
A split second later, they were back out in the infirmary, Tsukaea’s hand lowering from his head, “Trust me, I can keep her occupied for two point six seconds.”
“Alrighty then. Lets head ou…” He stopped as pain shot through his chest again.
“Haha, let’s wait until you’re done healing, tit for brains,” Tsukaea said as she headed for the door, “Lay down. You’re not gonna be saving any lives half-dead.”
Tulvir did as he was told. “Don’t see why you can’t heal me, unless healing Yanderux took a lot of out you…”
She paused in the door and turned back to face him, “I did heal you. I also healed Khrai, and helped heal Agarath, and now I’ve healed Yanderux, too. I need a lot of energy to use time-based spells – which is the only way I can slow her down. I’ll send Auxillio in to see if he feels like patching you up the rest of the way.”
Tulvir shrugged, deciding not to say anything and closed his eyes. He could use this time to both recover and get a proper plan together.
He sat down in his seat, as the rest of the Grim Incarnation division leaders entered the meeting room and took theirs as well. Khrai was there, though Agarath wasn’t. He had retrieved another chair for his sister, so she could assist in the debriefing. Once everyone was assembled, he spoke.
“As you are all aware, we are currently under a code Black due to recent attacks from a she-demon named Alice.” He tapped a button on the keyboard beside him, bringing up an image of the one who had nearly killed him less than a day ago.
“She’s not actually a demon, Tulvir,” Tsukaea cut in, “She’s more like a… Demonic Goddess thing.”
“That sounds like a real thing,” Khrai scoffed.
“Shut up, Khrai.”
Ragnar looked at the holographic image of Alice before him and frowned. “She’s just one being, how strong is she to call for a code Black?”
“Strong enough to nearly kill me and Yanderux both.” Tulvir replied calmly. Ragnar tensed, but remained silent. “Fortunately, I know how to kill her.” A few sighs of relief. “Unfortunately, I’m the only one in this room currently who can do it.” Everyone looked at him quizzically.
“Well that’s inconvenient…” Rillith commented, “Why are you the only one who can kill her?”
“According to Yanderux, in order to kill her I have to use Azurewrath’s Dawn. It takes two point six seconds to charge it, however.”
Ragnar nodded. “And how do you expect to use it if she’s going to be attacking you relentlessly?” He questioned.
“Good question. This is where Tsukaea comes in. She will keep Alice busy while I prepare to launch it.” Tulvir replied calmly, “I honestly have no damn clue how this whole thing will play out, or how Axeer and Obsidikar’s men will react to this. Therefore, I want you guys to spread across the universe and keep an eye on them. It would be quite odd if they didn’t try and seize this chance to attack while the two guardians of this universe had their pants down with a God on steroids. Any questions or comments?” He asked.
“I have a question.” Khrai asked sullenly, “Do you even know where she went?”
There was a strenuous pause as Tulvir looked to Tsukaea, who was in charge of hunting down Alice. Tsukaea pulled her phone out of her pocket and checked something. The silence that fell over the room as she clicked away was deafening.
“Nope. Not a clue.” Tsukaea finally replied, pocketing her cell. “She’s gone. Again.”
“God damn it…” Tulvir muttered. Looks like he was going to have to improvise here yet again.
“Should we still spread ourselves thin? We have the communication earrings to warn each other…” Rillith mused. Tulvir shook his head.
“So did Khrai and Agarath, but you know how that turned out.” He replied. “Saeka is probably the only one who Alice can’t ambush.”
“So then, what? Should we just come home and watch Axeer and Obsidikar’s folks, prepared to launch an offensive attack if they wiggle?” Khrai grunted, “That’s not particularly efficient, but if that’s what we have to do…”
“If Tulvir and I are out and about looking for her, I don’t think she’ll attack you guys again,” Tsukaea stated matter-of-factly, “She attacked Agarath and Khrai because she was trying to piss of Tulvir and make him behave sloppily. Needless to say, it sort of worked. But if he and I go out and call her up, she’ll probably come.”
Rillith raised an eyebrow. “With all due respect, I would greatly appreciate it if you just told us your plan, since you already seem to have one.”
Tsukaea smirked, “Tulvir will go out looking for her in a rage, demanding that she show herself and acting like he’s out for her blood. She’ll definitely show, and when she does, I’ll come out and fire everything I’ve got at her. I can slow her down for at least a little while, I think. The hard part is going to be making her stop moving long enough for Tulvir to hit her properly. But I think I might be able to remedy that.” She frowned thoughtfully, “Maybe. I have a couple of spells that should at least slow her down for a second or two. This will be largely about timing, so Tulvir, I expect you to make full use of our telepathic connection, even though I know you don’t like it.”
Tulvir sighed and nodded. “Alrighty then.” He looked around at the High Council. “Anything else?”
There was a chorus of “nothing further.” Tulvir nodding approvingly, “Okay then. Dismissed.”
Within an instant, the room was empty. Tulvir sighed again, bracing himself for the most difficult battle since the last war.
Tulvir zipped around the universe, allowing his energy to spill free, hoping to catch Alice’s attention. He paused and looked around him, slipping into the Flow for any signs of her energy. Finding none, he flew off in a different direction, heading for the Horsehead Nebula.
“Where are you Alice? I’m so bored, why don’t you come out and play, vorenaak?” He roared, he voice blasting out with a powerful pulse of energy. He hovered there for a few moments, waiting for her to show. I hope this works… Tulvir thought as he continued zipping around the universe, looking for the wench that had nearly killed him and two of his division leaders.
He stopped when he felt a familiar pulse of energy, headed straight for him ridiculously fast. If it wasn’t for the fact that she was coming from so far away, he probably wouldn’t have even noticed her energy before she had come upon him. He readied himself, Azurewrath and Shadowfang clutched in his hands, and made to head her way.
He stopped, eyes widening when he saw her heading towards him. How the hell was she moving so fast?! That had to be faster than Saeka. It had to be. He knew how far she had been coming from – at least a giga-parsec away. And yet, she had crossed that ridiculous distance in about ten seconds! Something was different. She hadn’t been moving this fast when he’d fought her before. Would Tsukaea be able to keep up? Probably not, right? She had said that he had nothing to worry about, but this level of speed was beyond even him, and he had fought just about everyone and everything at least once. This speed was beyond Tulvir. The Defender, know for his battle prowess and sheer fighting capability, was completely horrified by how fast Alice was moving.
He cursed, bracing himself and putting up a defensive stance barely a second before Alice arrived, slamming a lightning-enhanced fist directly into his swords. He saw the look on her face the same time he felt his swords start to splinter just the slightest bit. Alice was furious. He could see it on her face; a horribly calm expression with eyes that blazed like a fire. She was angry now, and that meant she was that much more deadly. He forced himself to smirk, doing his best to smother his terror.
“Nice of you to come out and play, vorenaak.” He growled, trying his best to force the being of universal destruction back. Alarm flared through his mind as his arms started bending inward, her fist inching closer and closer to his face.
“Oi, about to get a lightning-enhanced fist through my face, could use a little help here!” Tulvir called out to his sister telepathically. He ripped open the gates that kept his draconic strength and powers sealed, the burst of power allowing him to throw Alice back.
Before she could attack him again, a slew of fireballs moving at incredible speeds erupted out of seemingly nowhere. Alice started, dodging the fireballs easily, and Tulvir was about to jump back into the fray when Tsukaea appeared, her Soul Rippers slashing at Alice with expertise that made Tulvir’ heart swell with pride. She had taken his drills extremely seriously and perfected her technique.
And she hadn’t been lying – Tsukaea fought dirty. She did things with her swords and without them that Tulvir would never have even thought of doing. He watched as the duo battled it out, taking blows and giving them out. If they had been on a plain with dirt, Tulvir knew they would both be hurling sand into each others’ eyes.
The two women weren’t evenly matched, though. Tsukaea fought dirty, and she was definitely succeeding in keeping Alice away from Tulvir, but his sister was taking a beating. He would have to make this quick. He concentrated hard, pulling light energy from the universe to his swords. It was harder when he was away from any form of civilization. Stars and nebulae didn’t have good or bad intent or energy. They had neutral energy, and he couldn’t convert that into light or dark. What it meant was that it would take longer than 2.6 seconds to charge Azurewrath. It could take as much as five minutes.
“Tsukaea, this might take longer than we originally planned for,” he told her telepathically, his voice tense and worry coursing through his veins, “There’s not as much pure energy out here in the middle of nowhere. At the rate I’m going right now, we’re looking at more like three to five minutes.”
His sister cursed in his head, “I might be able to hold her that long. Do it as quickly as you can. And charge Shadowfang as well, just in case.“
He mentally agreed with her and started charging both swords at the same time, concentrating hard to pull as much as he could as fast as possible. His gut clenched as he stretched his mind as far as he could without ripping his mind in half, searching for even the smallest bits of energy that he could use and pulling them to his swords. He felt Akreluto stir and nudge his mind, extending his reach a bit further. His swords started to heat up a bit and almost sigh in content with the power they were receiving.
Abruptly, Alice blinked out of sight, leaving Tsukaea searching around for her in confusion. He instinctively slipped into the flow, searching for his target. Then, everything went white as pain tore through his gut. He let out an agonized cry of pain, looking down and seeing the source. A hand was sticking through his stomach.
W-… wha? He thought blearily, trying to maintain consciousness. Somewhere in the distance, he could hear Tsukaea hollering at him, saying something that he didn’t understand. It didn’t matter. His mind was blanking out, and he was suddenly ripped into his own head. He felt Alice’s invasive energy pressing into his mind and he let out a gasp of pain.
He felt Elthek and Akreluto’s energies swell to a dangerous level as Alice was tearing into his head, searching for Yanderux. Neither of the two younger Titans were having that, though, as Elthek snarled loudly and angrily, Akreluto growling with fury in the background. Their supernatural voices were louder and booming in his head, and all of a sudden a surge of their black energy ripped through him, seeping past the Great Seal that held them in Tulvir’ soul. They attacked Alice valiantly, this time not taken by surprise. They broke free of their restraints for a moment, pushing into Alice’s mind and hitting her over and over with their destructive powers, ripping her head open to attack her the way she was trying to attack Tulvir.
He heard her gasp in pain, and he returned to himself. The pain in his gut flared, and he felt like he was going to be sick. He was losing a lot of blood, and the pain was making him hot and cold at the same time. His hands started moving on instinct, and he wouldn’t really remember what happened, but the blades of his swords pressed together with a suddenness that he couldn’t process.
The explosion was awful and immense. Energy both pure and tainted poured out of his swords, mixing together angrily as they fought for dominance over one another. Pain ricocheted through him as the dark and the light ripped the energy out of his body, each wanting to use it for fodder in their battle. The agony spread through every nerve, ever pore in his body. His mouth opened in a silent scream of pain, the universe suddenly beyond his understanding. Nothing made sense, nothing was happening, everything was happening, pain was happening and he could hardly breath, he couldn’t see, it was like fire filled every nerve in his body and it hurt.
When the explosion cleared, he was barely conscious. He couldn’t see, he couldn’t hear, he couldn’t feel past the sheer agony in every bone, every muscle, every nerve. He was floating away from Alice and she was floating away from him, both of them in too much pain to move.
A pair of hands wrapped around him, one arm around his chest and the other holding his shoulder. He sort of wanted to lash out in confusion, but the hands were gentle and kind and he wasn’t sure he had the energy to attack anyone at that point. He could felt softness against his back, heard a shriek of rage and of pain, a swell of energy that was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.
“Tulvir!” Someone grabbed his shoulders and shook him, “Tulvir, use Azurewrath now!!”
He didn’t hesitate. He knew an important command when he heard one. He’d used that voice many times before. Azurewrath had sucked pure energy out of his body – what little their was – and so it was charged enough to make a decently powerful Dawn. He let the sword swell with energy, pulsing excitedly, and with a gasp of pain, he swung the sword down blindly and blasted out a powerful Dawn, not even saying the name because he couldn’t speak past his agony. Azurewrath roared in rage, understand the killing intent that was masked by his pain while Shadowfang gave him the strength needed to swing. He was glad that he knew his swords so well, that his swords knew him so well that they could communicate without even speaking.
Darkness pooled into his vision with finality. That last attack had taken the rest of his remaining energy. He had nothing left to give, and he didn’t want to give anything else at that point anyway. No one was saying anything. There were no words.
He could escape the pain, now. It would be fine.
It was warm, it was quiet, and it was rather bright, even behind his eyelids. The whole scenario was strikingly familiar. Tulvir opened his eyes blearily and looked around.
“The infirmary. We meet yet again.” Tulvir muttered lethargically. He blinked, waiting for his eyes to adjust while feeling a powerful wave of déja vú. He looked around and noticed, much to his joy, that Agarath was gone, having fully recovered. He heard the door open and someone gasp. He looked over and saw a familiar flash of pink as his wife Amy rushed over to his side and hugged him, taking care to avoid touching his still-healing injuries.
“Oh thank Order, I was worried that you wouldn’t wake up again when I saw your injuries.” Amy said with a sigh of relief, the happiness on her face clear. Her face turned to one of concerned curiosity. “What happened?” She asked. Tulvir held up a hand.
“I’ll explain everything after I write my report on the issue. It’ll take time to explain.” He replied, “Besides, after everything that’s happened, I’m tired…” He added with a massive yawn that would’ve made the Cheshire Cat jealous. Amy nodded, understanding his exhaustion.
The door opened again and Tsukaea walked in. She was patched up with bandages, but she looked tired and he could feel how gouged her deep well of energy was. Normally, Tsukaea had enough energy to power about fifteen God-level entities. Right now, however, she looked like she could barely power herself.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” She greeted, walking over to stand at the foot of his bed.
“Like a star just exploded in my chest after being fried in furnace, but otherwise, I’m doin’ swell.” He replied, “So what happened after I got stabbed and blew myself up?” He asked. He shot Amy an ‘I’ll explain later’ glance when she coughed lightly.
“I ripped Susano’o out of Alice and you used Dawn on her in a half-conscious state, nearly killing yourself but managing to wipe her out in the process,” Tsukaea explained, “Once she was sufficiently weakened, I used Soul Ripper on her. Alysigga is no more. Good work.” Tulvir let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.
“Awesome work, team,” he said with a fist pump closely followed by a groan of pain, “Let skip work tomorrow and get some schwarma. I’ll write the report later.” He announced.
“Ha, yea, you’re a dork and a half, Tulvir,” Tsukaea replied with a chuckle. “You’re gonna be in here for a few days, so I’d say we get the week off.”
“That works too. A few days of rest then the rest of the week on vacation with Amy. I approve of that plan.” Tulvir said, chuckling at his wife’s soft squeal. “How is Susano’o and the other two?” He asked. “I plan on giving them a copy of my report when I get around the writing it.”
“Susano’o is mildly traumatized and very sick, but he should make a full recovery. I’ve got Kasirrus taking care of him.” Tsukaea answered simply, “We’re thinking he should be allowed to leave the Temple of the Sky sometime next week.” Tulvir nodded.
“Well if that’s everything, I’ll lie here for a few days until Auxillio decides I’m in good enough shape to be released.” He said. “Amy will keep me company so I won’t be bored while I recover. Thanks for helping me out, Kaea. I probably would’ve gotten myself killed if it weren’t for you and your skills in magic.”
His sister nodded with a knowing grin and walked out of the room, leaving Tulvir and Amy to themselves as Tulvir started explain everything that happened, starting with Amaterasu’s call for help, which felt like it happened years ago.
The second-born Sister of Creation, Karalora, returned ten days later. Tulvir and Tsukaea waited for her in her office, ready to tell her about the past several weeks that she’d been gone. Every so often, Chaos and Order invited the available Ancestors from all the Realities. Naturally, Yanderux, Akreluto, and Elthek never went. But the Sisters of Creation always made sure to attend the weeks-long dinner.
Karalora stepped into her office, spotting her two children and smiling at them. Both Tsukaea and Tulvir could tell that she was indexing their injuries.
“Anything interesting happen while I was away?”
Tulvir and Tsukaea exchanged a brief glance, before turning back to their mother with smiles and saying in unison, “No, not really.”
Karalora didn’t question them any further, instead offering treats she had gotten from Chaos and Order. The three of them ate with contentment, chatting absently about the uninteresting days that had followed her departure.
Alysigga never came up in the conversation.