12: Birth of a Hero

 

The ruins of Culdaff shook. Their thick concrete and steel foundations cracking, bending, breaking. A body came flying from deep within its underground. Flying through the air and smashing through two buildings before hitting a third, sliding down to the ground, bouncing once and coming to a stop.

Ten seconds went by, before it finally stirred, before he finally stirred. A tall, dark skinned, dark eyed man, with pink hair. A hunter dressed in an incongruous mixture of t-shirt, jeans and light plate mail.

“Wait for what exactly?” said the goddess.

“Aw….so we seriously can’t talk about this.” he said speaking to the gulf in the earth, that he’d just come flying out from.


The answer to his question was a roar, a bellow loud enough that it could be heard clearly from several hundred miles away.

Two seconds later he got a second answer, a flash of divine flesh covered in divine armor, backed by several thousand miles of muscular metal scaled serpent.

Thus, having barely returned to his feet, the young hunter was made airborne again.

*****

Elsewhere, in the former, town, slowly expanding city-state of Brodick, an old man, watched from the top floor of a tower, as a familiar skyline grew emptier.

For the most part, the people of the new age weren’t advanced as the people of the old age. They couldn’t build their kingdoms and territories quite as high as their forebears could.

As such, it was always noticed when an old world building fell. The sky would grow brighter though the hearts of the common folk grew dimmer, shaken by fear and questions of whether the destruction a ruin spoke of new danger or new hope.

Today, ancient buildings were falling like dandelions, like grass before a mower.

In the young Aubrey empire, those power houses and ancient undying’s that lived in the settlements and cities nearest to the Culdaff ruin watched the sky grow wider, feeling the violent fluctuations of mana and finding themselves feeling uneasy in their hearts.


Some simply ordered their people to show caution and if possible to halt all unnecessary activities for the day.

Others, who were bolder, or at least more curious called up a few of their fellows to draw nearer and see more clearly, with their own eyes, what exactly was happening.

Lord Geoff Brodick, immortal ancestor, and protector of Brodick city, was one of those who answered such calls, and gave into their curiosity.

The thin haired, thick skinned, one eyed old man, went to join his fellows, a group of levellers and immortals, who had been his contemporaries in settling the North Eastern Tri-American continent.

Some of them  were young faced, many of them were old, but he was familiar with all them.

And as a single group they flew in an airship, a zeppelin that was  mixture of old world tech and new world magics. Flying towards the city stopping just short of where the mana fluctuations were the most violent.

“Oy, old one-eye, you have any clue what the hell’s going on over there.” said Regis. A portly old man, who held the oversized morning star in his hands with the same ease a normal old man would hold a golf club.

“How the hell would I know, Old fatty?” snapped Geoff. Not liking the immediate of his old nickname.

“Eh?!…Really! It’s practically happening in your backyard and you say you don’t know what’s happening?!” said a third speak. A skinny old humankin male, named Fitzgerald, Fitz for short. An old catman with gray sprinkled through the fur of his ears and his whiskers. His mostly human face, heavily wrinkled.

“You should talk…isn’t your Fitzroy Sixteen Claws School of Assassins, closer to Culdaff than my city.” glowered Geoff.


Fitzgerald simply stood, serene, smiling faintly as if he hadn’t heard the other man’s rebuttal.

“In any case…what exactly do you think is going there.” said Fitz. Speaking after a moment’s silence.

“Old Man Rorick, thinks it the gods awakening…” said Regis. Tapping the pointed club with the back of his hands. Wearing a strangely feral look on his otherwise grandfatherly face. Looking like he wouldn’t mind going to war with a god or two.

“Psh…Please. Old Rorick always thinks its the gods awakening…I swear to you that old man’s going senile.” said a fourth speaker. A finely dressed old matron, with lightning crackling out from the pearl necklace that she wore around her neck.

“Ah, hello Susan.” said Geoff. As always feeling, slightly anxious and slightly apologetic as he ran into his ex-wife.


A silly, slightly cowardly part of him wondering if he hadn’t perhaps made the wrong the decision by coming here today.

More explosions came from the dead city, shaking the sky and threatening to knock down all nearby airships that flew within it.

Great beams of lightning appeared in the cloudless heavens and struck the city at least a dozen times, felling a least three dozen buildings.

In mean time, the other old men of the small little clique of former party members, rivals and friends managed to mumble out their greetings, to the strongest amongst their company.

“W-…well, it’s not impossible for it to be the gods. I mean we ‘are’ living in some remarkable times.” said Geoff. Recognizing that mood had turned strange and trying to pull things back on track. Regretting it as he heard his words. Wondering why it was that it sounded like he was trying to pick a fight with the woman.

Fortunately for all present, she simply glared at him and sniffed.

“Pah, gods my foot. Do you hear that roaring? I’d say we’re seeing the fight between two Saint level beasts.” said Susan Cadeyrin. Former greatest swordsman in all the continent.

All three old and several of the other immortals and levellers who’d come on this trip with them, froze for a minute.

Geoff felt his mouth go dry as he heard the roaring and the rumbles that came from the dead city shaking itself to pieces.

“Su-…Surely you jest…Saint level beasts aren’t apples and pears, you know. It’d be hard enough to believe that one would somehow come settle down in our neck of the woods but for two to try and do so, that would be…well that would….”

Geoff have anything else to say about it. He just let his words peeter out and the old woman simply shrugged. Rolling her eyes as she turned her attention to the city, that now shined as silhouettes. It’s background made bright by beams of burning mana and bolts of heavenly thunder.

*****

On the ground the young hunter, stood, his body covered in blood. His eyes red, his gaze gloomy. A silvery mist escaped him as he faced off against the armored war-goddess that sat mounted on the back of colossal serpent.

“It’s going to be this way then huh…?” he blustered. His face determined and heroic, though if any had been slightly closed it would have seemed that he looked slightly teary-eyed.

“Well then don’t blame me, for not being polite.” he said. Throwing back the accrued mass of energy and force that he’d been able to steal from her with each blow that she’d given him.

The blow landed flying out at the woman as beam of solid red and white light. The woman was blasted off the back of the head of the serpent and sent flying towards the other end of the city.

Meanwhile all the observers, in all the airships gasped. Shocked as they realized that they were seeing human forms fighting. Realizing that instead of war between monsters, they were witnessing a war between monstrous people.

“Ah….can you look at that….It seems that both old Rorick and ol-….I mean…and Lady Susan, were both wrong.” said Fitzgerald.

“Aye….it seems I was a bit too hasty in my surmise. Instead of two Saint rank beast its two beastly Saint Ranked warriors.” said Susan. Her eyes narrowed. An appraising look in her eye as she watched the battle below. Watching as the woman in white, stood, using willpower and gather aura, to pull herself back to her feet. Looking battered, but more hurt than angry.

She roared, and her mount roared and she leapt into the air with a single bound. Easily overtaking and surpassing the height of the observant airships.


The Lady Swordsman watched, wishing she’d brought her sword with her despite knowing that in all likelihood she’d have been no match for either of the warriors below. Feeling her blood boiling with an excitement she’d thought she’d gotten too old to feel.


Geoff could barely believe his eyes, as a building fell over and he saw a familiar face. A figure that had been haunting his city like a specter. A living bit of urban legend that followed North Brodick as it had absorbed its neighbors and grew larger. Seen mostly near the whorehouses, the taverns, and in the Hunter Associate offices themselves. But only ever seen in glimpses.

He’d known the man was something else, but this was beyond the board, beyond expectation.

He gazed down just as the man gazed up and Geoff felt his heart grow cold he saw the look on the man’s face. That sinister smile of his, that look that said, it was all in his hands, that everything was going as “he” expected it to.

The sinister man bowed, and Geoff some him mouth some words. Words that the old man, felt that he could almost hear.

Words that he felt that he had to hear, vital words. Important words.

The smile dimmed a little and the man looked almost apologetic, but then just as if it were all a dream he was back to looking sinister again. Turning towards his opponent, the golden woman who now presently seemed to be holding some manner of miniature sun in her hands.

“Geoff? I don’t suppose you’d have heard of anyone quite this powerful skulking around through our territories? I haven’t heard anything have you?” said Regis.

His grip on his mace tightening as he watched the scene below with a bit of anxiousness in his heart.


The strained feeling in the local mana making him worry as to whether airship wasn’t just a tad too close to the ruined city, after all.

“Geoff?” said Fitzgerald. Seeing his old friend go as pale as a ghost.

“Geoff!” shouted Susan, rushing forwards to catch her old paramore, as he fell in a faint.

As the two warriors below clashed for a final time the whole sky shook, and the old woman missed, letting the old man fall to the floor.

Geoff awoke from his stupor as he hit the ground. Feeling embarrassed, for all himself to be quite so shocked. Feeling a grim sense of impending doom. He got up and without a single word. He tore a talisman out of his pocket. Fingers trembling.

“Geoff what are you-…”


“Everyone get out, We have to get out….this is…this is some kind of trap.”

“What?” said his friends. Speaking different versions of the same words over each other.

“What are you talking about?” they asked.  Questioning. Uncomprehending.

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I just…”


He didn’t speak further. He just directly tore the talisman in half pressing it, into the palm of his Susan. So Susan, who he’d made to hate him, but who he’d never stopped loving, even after he’d gone and married another woman, a mortal noblewoman who bore him six sons before she died.

She vanished in a flash of light. And seeing what he’d done. The other seniors grew more apprehensive a few of them, pulling their own disappearing acts in turn, sensing that sight-seeing trip was over.

Barely escaping as the sky was scorched empty, and all was turned ash by an explosion of golden flame.

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