Chapter 6 – Through a wall of glass, God looks on

Part 1

Daniel ran forward, towards the car in the distance. Behind him were several Olympian soldiers that noticed his intervention and felt that he should have stayed out of it. Without any weapons, it was likely that if he tried to attack them, they wouldn’t let him finish making a spell. To his relief, a familiar explosion sounded in the distance and one of the soldiers died with his body blown to pieces. Atop the distant car was Loralei with a bright smile spread across her face and the large M77 in her hands.

Several bolts of ice then struck into the remaining chasers as Aria stood nearby striking a pose and making a ‘v’ sign. Daniel hadn’t noticed it before, but it seemed that Aria was actually bad at magic. While she was certainly had an unmatchable supply of mana and prana, and could create arrays faster than anyone he had met, but those things weren’t skilful. All of the magic she used was either large or a barrage of small attacks; there wasn’t any precision or control involved. With the number of spells she had cast, and the number of misses, Loralei using the M77 was more cost effective than Aria’s spells.

While wasting power wasn’t much of an issue for someone with her quantity of power, it revealed a problem that he hadn’t thought about; Aria had very little actual training or experience. While he didn’t know what she had gone through while they were apart, she hadn’t been apart of any kinship when he left, so it was unlikely that she had much in the way of formal training. If her spells were self-taught, then her lack of precision was completely understandable. Furthermore, when she started to use more powerful spells, the difference in skill would really become apparent. When they had time, he would have to give her some real lessons.

As thought that, he arrived at the car and they immediately started to drive away from the battlefield. They didn’t really have a plan, they just didn’t want to get shot while thinking of one. The lack of plan was actually the first thing they discussed, with a sense of urgency forming from the nearby war. Daniel hadn’t noticed it at first but his original plan, going to neutral territory had a problem with it; he would have to give up on his revenge. As much as he hated it, the Southernmost Den was one of the most powerful groups within the Norse pantheon territories, and it was unlikely that any group would form an allegiance without their support or recognition.

That meant that they had three key options, giving up on revenge, following Tyr’s instructions and forming a treaty between the Norse, Olympians and Celtics; fight for the Celtics and force and agreement with the Olympians or turning against them and side with the Olympians, or even the Hindu or Shinto Pantheons, to use their power to take his revenge. While that would be the fastest, and easiest way to get what he wanted, the long lived perspective of a Draconian helped him realise that it was far from the best method. Even if he succeeded, it wouldn’t mean anything since his allies would then turn against him. It also wouldn’t be particularly viable, since the primary race of the Shinto Pantheon was Dragonkin.

While religious orders governed territories, not races, there was a tendency of particular races to prefer certain pantheon. The primary race of a religion was simply the race that the particular religion had the most of, and didn’t have any official meaning. However, since relations between some races could get a little tense, there did tend to be definite pantheons that some races avoided. The clearest examples would be the Egyptian pantheon and the Shinto Pantheon.

For some reason, the Egyptian pantheon was attractive to both Darklings and Mongrels, ensuring that the majority of people living in that territory were of those races. Given the traits of Elves, it was therefore unlikely to see Elves that followed those orders. It was similar for the Shinto pantheon, they had a lot of Dragonkin, and therefore waged a lot of wars with Draconian.

The primary race of the Celtic orders was, unsurprisingly, Elves; which made negotiations with Egypt somewhat difficult. Even if the gods of each side declaring neutrality, the followers of each side still had their biases. For the Norse Pantheon, which had no primary race, it was a lot easier for the to remain neutral or form alliances.

Since siding with the enemies wasn’t an option, he had to decide whether it was worth it to give up on his vengeance. Daniel realised, though, that the choice wasn’t only his to make. If his mates didn’t like an option then that option was off the table. As such, he asked them for their opinions after telling them about his thoughts on each option, only to be surprised by their responses.

Leah didn’t really care; the Southwest Den might have been within the Norse territories, but it was an atheistic group so she had no quarms with turning against them. Furthermore, she mostly just wanted to fight and that would happen regardless of which one was chosen. If anything she was in favour of supporting either the Olympic or Celtic orders, simply because they were already there and she could start fighting sooner.

Loralei had a similar conclusion, but for different reasons. While she wasn’t particularly attached to any religion, if Olympus won the battle, then Broken Tower would be in danger. While she wasn’t especially attached to the place, particularly since they wanted her and her mate dead, she didn’t like the idea of her mother getting killed. That said, that was a preference and she could take it or leave it. Ultimately, she supported Daniel’s choice, but had a slight preference towards helping Enoksen.  

Aria on the other hand was very clear about one thing, she wanted to see the Southernmost Den burn. It took Daniel completely by surprise, but Aria’s sense of vengeance was even stronger than his. Needless to say, it was a very attractive feature in a Draconian woman. That said, she also wanted to see the Golden Den in ruins also, though wouldn’t say why. Since the Golden Den was an atheistic neutral territory, destroying it wouldn’t affect any other side, though with its power, it was far beyond what they could manage.

With their opinions in mind, they only really had one option left; helping Enoksen to drive back Ares’s Spear, and make a deal with Olympus. With that settled, they drove to a nearby sanddune overlooking the battle.

Ideally, the way they fight should drive back the enemy, but still leave them intact enough to be useful when they work together. That was actually fairly doable for Daniel; his force breath could simply crush people into the ground until the pass out. If he didn’t put too much power into it or use it on a hard surface, then the sand would disable the army without killing them. While he was doing that, Aria and Loralei would be transferring their mana into him so that he didn’t run out. While they were disabling people, Leah would protect them and kill anyone that wasn’t affected by the breath.

With that plan in place, they moved into the battle.

 

In the city surrounding Enoksen, trouble was starting to brew at the main gate. Word had gotten out that a prisoner that was scheduled to be executed had escaped, and each of the three groups blamed one another. With the tension already high from the nearby battle, the groups quickly turned on each other. With distrust and discontent, the groups became extremely inefficient, failing to even notice a group of hidden figures slipping through the gates.

The group was Hades’s Flames, one of the smallest Orders within the Olympic Pantheon. They were a group devoted solely to death, and practiced assassination and murder like it was the very essence of their religion, like it was an object of worship. The group of eight were each dressed in shadowy black clothes that clung loosely to their bodies, tight enough to not impede their movements but loose enough to make their silhouette less human. With the chaos throughout the city, a few extra shadows moving about went completely unnoticed.

They moved with no wasted motions, heading directly towards the city council. With the town under their control, the soldiers would have no safe haven or supplies and could be easily crushed. With just their small force, large enemies could be brought down. It was just like how they fought, no matter the size death took all equally. The council hall was a longhouse, constructed on one of the lowest branches of Enoksen. To get to it, they would have to clime the stone stairs at the end of the Combined Orders Training Grounds. The stone building, with its football field sized grounds, was being used as a staging area for soldiers on reserve. If the eight were discovered, they would have to fight through that group to reach their target.

They didn’t feel any kind of dread from that; if they died then they would simply be going to meet the god they serve. Death wasn’t something they could fear, it was what they worshiped, it was what they desired. Should Hades benefit from it, they would take their own lives without a moment’s hesitation. With that in mind, they moved throughout the grounds, snaking between soldiers with only a slight breeze signifying their passing.

Having made it through, standing at the roots of Enoksen, they smirked to themselves feeling superior to the idiotic soldiers that couldn’t even notice them. The stone stairs stood solemnly, like a path straight to their destination and victory. Their rose coloured, marble-like bricks caught the morning light and funneled it dramatically along its railings. It seemed to give the impression that the destination was a divine place, filled with radiant light.

They traveled upward, the council hall building more than fifty meters above the ground. From the lowest branch of Enoksen, They could see across the whole town and out into the battlefield. From where they stood, the eight could see a third party had entered the battle and were cutting a line through their allies. It wouldn’t be long until the interveners reached the leaders and made it possible for the Celtic army to make a counterattack. With the recent failure by Aegis, they couldn’t afford to get driven back here.  

With that determination, they continued forward even faster, intending to end it before their allies started to suffer. When they reached the door to the council, they peered through a nearby window. The members of the council were all extremely old. They probably not only survived after the fall, but were probably born before the fall even started. Elves were almost unaffected by time, but the leaders of Enoksen city looked more like residents of a retirement village than powerful champions. It was hard for the eight to believe that they would be even slightly troubled by the leaders.

What the eight didn’t realise was that the elderly were a difficult thing for elves to deal with. While they needed their wisdom and power, their lack of physical beauty was painful for those still young. If it were anyone else in an Elven community, they would have been killed, but since they were a necessary resource, the elderly were instead locked in the council like a quarantine. Meals were delivered, they could look out over the city and they had the power to govern the city, but they couldn’t leave the building and questions were asked to them through the door.

Hades’s Flames, filled with confidence, burst through the door and immediately placed weapons against the city leaders. With a cruel arrogance, they demanded that they order their soldiers to surrender. A few of the old Elves chuckled, knowing that they didn’t have the power to do so even if they wished to. Before the eight could even react, their weapons melted and dripped to the floor. Pain from the heat caused them to drop the broken weapons and they jumped back, realising their mistake. Each of the decrepit Elves had centuries to practice their magic, and were born in the age when the Glass Tower System was made. Even if their bodies were too frail to move their might was still far more than the eight of them could handle.

They backed out of the room as fast as they could avoiding the spells that seemed to form from any angle around them. Though the attacks were done completely halfheartedly, they were still enough to critically wound three of the eight. With them in that state, it wouldn’t be possible for them to escape. Without any hesitation the three injured people were killed. After taking a moment to calm themselves, they looked over to the battle. The third party were in the middle of fighting the leaders. While it wasn’t going as smoothly as when they entered the battle, it was clear that the leaders wouldn’t survive, as two of the attackers, both mages, held back the regular soldiers while the other two went for the leaders.

As what was left of Hades’s Flames knew they couldn’t take the city council by themselves, the only thing they could do was to return to the battle and attack the leaders on the battlefield. When they went to do so, they suddenly heard a voice from behind them.

“And where do you think you’re going?” The voice asked with an audible sneer, “You walked on the holy tree, Enoksen, so don’t think you can just leave.”

When they turned to see the voice they found its owner flying just above the ground. It was a woman with bronze tanned skin, glossy, shoulder length black hair, calming blue eyes and slightly pointed ears. She was beautiful, not in the manufactured way an Elf was, but in a way that seemed natural and balanced. However, that appearance was contrasted with, or perhaps accentuated by, the appearance of a twisted horn on her forehead and monstrous wing on her back. After she landed gracefully on the branch, the wings disappeared, as if they were never there. If there had been any doubt before, it was gone at that moment; she was a Demon.

Before they could react, a shotgun appeared in her hands, taken out of her Demonic storage, and it shot one of them in the chest. The shot was clearly not normal, as the fragments burrowed themselves through their armour and started to burn their flesh from within. Although they were startled by the sudden attack, the others jumped away before more could come. If they acted together, a single Demon wasn’t a threat to them. However, if she delayed them, the elders would have time to leave the room; at which time they would die.

Knowing that all she had to do was stall, the remaining four wouldn’t stand a chance. If they were to have any impact on the battle, there only choice was to retreat. Thus they ran. They jumped straight off the side and used magic to stop soften their landing. With what little time they had before hitting the ground, they couldn’t displace all of the impact, but were at least able to run after hitting the ground.

By the time they got outside the city, they noticed that the Demon hadn’t given chase. It was only then that they realised that they hadn’t destroyed their companion’s brain. Given the traits of a Demon, the memories of the dead bodies would be read and all of their order’s secrets would be known. At that point their only options were to ensure the Demon died before it could tell anyone, or a fast runner returned to the capital city to ensure changes were made. It was natural that the four didn’t want their embarrassing failure known, but they had no choice as the Demon had been too close to the city leaders and too much time had passed. Their only choice was to run back to the capital and hope they weren’t too late.

 

 

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