Chapter 86:

The Battle of Themis (Part 3)

The Children of Eris

With a low growl, the black knight swung its great sword once more. Bookmark here

Dante narrowly dodged its attack, then swung his scythe at the black knight’s chin, but the knight moved back to avoid the attack. Kella followed up, thrusting her spear towards its chest, but the knight used its free hand to bash her spear to one side, then kicked her in the chest, launching her skidding backwards.Bookmark here

Kella dug her spear into the ground to keep herself standing as she flew backwards. Dante roared, generating power in his arms using his arts, and sliced three times at the black knight. The knight blocked the first two attacks, then parried the third, taking the chance to stab at Dante. Dante was a second too late as he moved to dodge the strike as the blade cut lightly across his side, drawing a bit of blood. Bookmark here

Dante rolled to one side, then swiped at the knight’s legs with his scythe, but the knight jumped back to dodge the swipe. Dante then generated energy in his palm and thrust it at the knight, blasting the undead with a powerful blast of wind. It hit the black knight in its chest and the knight soared backwards, though it remained on its feet.Bookmark here

It came to a stop when it stabbed its blade into the ground, halting its momentum in an instant.Bookmark here

Dante clicked his tongue and readied himself to fight again as Kella ran up to his side.Bookmark here

“How can one undead be so strong?” She asked.Bookmark here

“Not sure, but maybe Karak-Harth summoned it using a lot of corpses,” Dante theorized. “Either way, it might be too strong for us.”Bookmark here

Kella bitterly scowled at the undead as it lumbered towards them slowly. “If that’s the case, then how do we stop it?”Bookmark here

“Not sure but, for now, let’s try taking its head off and work from there.” He smiled at her. “Unless you have a better idea.”Bookmark here

Kella flashed him a small smile. “I can get behind that.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Not only had Prince Julius rallied the defenders after the walls had been breached, but they were back in formation.Bookmark here

Julius was directing them effectively from their rear and the Holy Legion were just about able to hold back the never-ending undead assault.Bookmark here

Even when the undead did flank them and threatened to break their ranks, the Holy Legion held fast.Bookmark here

“Don’t let up, men!” Julius yelled at the top of his voice. “Just hold on a bit longer and we’ll win!”Bookmark here

If they win, that is.Bookmark here

If the Divines were able to kill Karak-Harth, then the battle was over.Bookmark here

If he endured, Themis would fall.Bookmark here

Suddenly, a death knight managed to break through the front lines. The nearby legion soldiers were quickly overwhelmed by the bone golems that came to help them and so, in order to keep them fighting, Julius joined them.Bookmark here

“For Themis!” He cried, striking at the death knight’s chest.Bookmark here

Julius dodged the death knight’s follow-up attack, then stabbed it in its head, dispatching the undead. Then, Julius turned to his men and shouted, “This great city has stood strong for hundreds of years and she will not fall today! For the Great Goddess!”Bookmark here

“For the Great Goddess!”Bookmark here

Though their comrades were dying all around them, the Holy Legion didn’t stop fighting. Bookmark here

Their spirits had been renewed by the prince and they no longer feared their deaths.Bookmark here

I’m counting on you, Lawrence, Arieon!Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Great, powerful lightning bolts snapped across the room, blasting the ground where the Divines and their allies had been standing.Bookmark here

Once the dust settled, Christoph fired three arrows from his bow at Karak-Harth. All of them were made of silver and enchanted with holy magic. Karak-Harth stopped the arrows mid-air with a wave of his hand, then launched three lightning bolts at Christoph.Bookmark here

Isabella leapt before him with her great shield, absorbing the blows but scorching her shield, then she charged at Karak-Harth. From the left, Lawrence, with his claymore drawn back and glowing with white energy, ran at Karak-Harth and, on his right, Arieon was casting spells at him.Bookmark here

All three attacks landed at Karak-Harth at the same time, but a protective bubble appeared around the caster, absorbing their attacks. With a tap of Karak-Harth’s staff on the ground, the bubble exploded outwards, unleashing all the energy back at Karak-Harth’s attackers.Bookmark here

Everyone withstood the counter but were forced to retreat a few metres from Karak-Harth.Bookmark here

Christoph loosed two arrows at Karak-Harth again but the caster batted them out of the air. Karak-Harth thrust his palm at Christoph and clenched his hand into a fist. The air around Christoph compressed tightly around him, greatly injuring the man and knocking the wind out of him.Bookmark here

Karak-Harth huffed and threw him across the room before firing lightning bolts all around him in random directions.Bookmark here

Arieon raised a great white wall between them and Karak-Harth, bouncing the blasts back at Karak-Harth who raised his bubble once again. With a push of his palms, Arieon moved the wall around Karak-Hart, bringing them around the lich, putting tonnes of pressure onto the lich’s shield. Bookmark here

Karak-Harth flinched as his bubble began to crack and break. Bookmark here

He was in a tight spot, but it was one he could still fight his way out of.Bookmark here

He roared and pushed his staff high into the air, firing a dark green magical energy out of his bubble and into Arieon’s wall, causing it to crack.Bookmark here

“He’s going to destroy the wall!” Isabella cried out as she gave Christoph a healing potion. Bookmark here

Arieon smiled. “He will, but that doesn’t mean he can stop everything we throw at him.”Bookmark here

Arieon’s wall collapsed into large pieces. As it fell, it obstructed Karak-Harth’s vision, leaving him vulnerable to surprise attacks; it was an opportunity Lawrence wasn’t going to miss.Bookmark here

From one of those blind spots, Lawrence lunged at Karak-Harth and lodged his blade into the lich’s ribs.Bookmark here

Karak-Harth cried out in pain but smashed his staff into Lawrence’s helmet, knocking the paladin backwards a few feet. However, even though the blow had dazed Lawrence, he wasn’t going to let up his attack.Bookmark here

He swung, cut, thrust and twirled his blade at Karak-Harth who struggled to dodge or block each attack with his magic.Bookmark here

As Karak-Harth was pushed back by Lawrence’s attacks, Arieon fired beams of holy magic at the lich, occasionally scraping Karak-Harth’s bones and damaging him. Then, with Christoph healed, he and Isabella got back on their feet and ready to join in.Bookmark here

“How dare you!” Karak-Harth bellowed, dodging Lawrence and Arieon’s attacks. “I am Karak-Harth, you worms!” As he screamed, putrid green magical energy gathered over his body. “You are nothing to me. Nothing!”Bookmark here

The energy exploded outwards from his body, blasting Lawrence far across the room and knocking everyone else off their feet. Bookmark here

Lawrence braced himself before he hit the wall and his drop was cushioned by Arieon’s magic.Bookmark here

Arieon blasted another beam from his palm at Karak-Harth but, when it hit the lich’s head, it did nothing.Bookmark here

Realising the imminent danger, Arieon pulled his staff off his back and began chanting.Bookmark here

Saint Themis, mother of the Holy Empire, your humble servant beseeches you in our time of need.Bookmark here

“Themis?!” Karak-Harth screeched louder than before, thrust his staff at Arieon and twenty magic circles appeared behind the lich, blasting pure purple beams of energy at the Divine Caster. Bookmark here

“Lord Caster!” Isabella yelled.Bookmark here

She put herself between them and steadied her shield as best she could before the blast hit.Bookmark here

However, despite Isabella’s best efforts, she was easily blown away and into Arieon; the two tumbled across the ground as Isabella’s shield cracked in half. Bookmark here

It was usable, but nowhere near as effective.Bookmark here

Christoph kept firing arrows as Lawrence tried to charge Karak-Harth once more. Bookmark here

“Isabella, if you and the others can distract him long enough for me to finish the chant, we’ll be able to win this,” Arieon whispered to her as they both stood up. The room shook violently as Karak-Harth attacked the other two. “See if you can do something about that staff of his as well.”Bookmark here

“How long do you need?” She asked back, flexing her shield arm.Bookmark here

“Thirty seconds.”Bookmark here

“…Understood.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Dante and Kella alternated attacks at the black knight, each striking and then dodging, keeping the knight off balance.Bookmark here

But that was all they could do.Bookmark here

If Kella knocked its sword away and Dante went to strike it, the knight would be quick enough to parry it or block it with its gauntlet.Bookmark here

Dante would lock the knight’s weapon against his own, giving Kella the chance to stab it in the head, but the knight caught her spear and pushed her away.Bookmark here

Neither side could properly attack the other.Bookmark here

Dante tried to blast its sword arm away using his arts, but the knight foresaw the move and dodge the blast by a hair’s breadth. Bookmark here

“Dammit!” Dante cried, cutting twice at the knight who blocked both strikes. “What in the world is this thing?”Bookmark here

The knight caught Dante’s scythe, then pushed him away and cut at him. Bookmark here

Dante blocked it with the side of his scythe, but he went skidding backwards a few minutes, infuriating him.Bookmark here

For the first time in hundreds of years, Dante couldn’t see the end of a fight.Bookmark here

Dante gripped his scythe tightly and gathered a large amount of energy in his limbs. Bookmark here

He kicked off the ground and leapt towards the black knight, his weapon wound back. He swung it forwards with great force at the undead’s head but the black knight bent its back out of the way of the attack.Bookmark here

The black knight then swung its mighty sword at Dante, catching him mid-air, meaning all he could do was try to block it with his scythe.Bookmark here

His weapon took the brunt of the attack, but the force launched him flying through the air until he smashed onto a nearby rooftop, knocking him out.Bookmark here

“Dante!” Kella screamed.Bookmark here

The black knight turned its attention back to Kella and thrust its weapon at her. Kella struggled to parry the sword to one side before the black knight kicked her, sending her rolling across the ground. When she came to a stop, she struggled to catch her breath after the wind had been knocked out of her.Bookmark here

Slowly, she pushed herself up onto her knees as the black knight leisurely began marching towards her, occasionally swiping away the lower ranked adventurers that tried to attack it.Bookmark here

We can’t defeat it.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

The death knight’s sword sliced through Julius’s shield and lodged itself into the prince’s arm.Bookmark here

With a blood-curdling cry, Julius dropped his sword and grasped at the wound. The death knight grunted, withdrew its blade and kicked the prince in the chest. Julius flew into a nearby wall and slumped onto the ground.Bookmark here

His body was numb from the pain and his mind was racing as the death knight drew closer to him, brandishing its blade. A few soldiers rushed to defend the prince, but the death knight made short work of them.Bookmark here

Frustrated with himself more than anyone, Julius gripped his sword as tightly as he could and lifted it towards the death knight.Bookmark here

His arm was so weak that it hurt him to hold it up.Bookmark here

His arm shook and all Julius could hear was the rattling of his armour, and the rapid beating of his heart.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Lawrence narrowly avoided the three lightning bolts from Karak-Harth and ran at the lich once again. Bookmark here

Karak-Harth raised his palm and staff at the Divine Paladin, but arrows from Christoph distracted him, drawing part of his wrath towards him. Bookmark here

As her comrades distracted him, Isabella, with her short sword and what was left of her shield, snuck around to the back of Karak-Harth. Bookmark here

As they fought and drew the lich’s attention, Arieon was chanting at the back of the room.Bookmark here

His eyes were closed and his hands were wrapped around his staff.Bookmark here

He was praying to Themis to grant him the power to unleash his most powerful attack, one that, if used incorrectly, could wipe out a small city in a single blast.Bookmark here

Saint Themis, mother of the Holy Empire, your humble servant beseeches you in our time of need. Bookmark here

Give your divine servant the power he needs in this moment to do away with the evil that would plague and destroy your most holy of empires, so that its good people may live to see another dawn. Bookmark here

Bless my staff in this moment with all of your might and let justice be done upon the evils that dares to threaten your peace.Bookmark here

Release: The Will of the Goddess.Bookmark here

As Arieon finished his prayer, his staff glowed a beautiful, pure white energy and he smiled.Bookmark here

“I haven’t gotten to use this since the day my predecessor taught me this,” Arieon whispered, glancing over his shoulder at the battle. “If this doesn’t work, we’re dead.”Bookmark here

And I won’t be able to cast another spell for a week, at least.Bookmark here

I just need a good opening to strike.Bookmark here

Lawrence’s blade glowed with magical energy and fired at Karak-Harth with a swing of his sword. Karak-Harth grunted and manipulated the air to blast the attack away from him. Christoph loosed two arrows into the back of the lich’s head, both landing in his skull. Karak-Harth growled in pain and blasted six lightning bolts at Christoph which the archer struggled to dodge. The sixth one hit his leg, greatly burning his flesh and the paladin collapsed onto the floor, howling in pain.Bookmark here

It was then that Isabella struck.Bookmark here

From one side of the throne’s stairs, she leapt up, using magical energy she gathered in her feet to give her the force to jump high enough to reach Karak-Harth. Then, she kicked off the wall and released the rest of the energy, propelling her towards Karak-Harth.Bookmark here

She came in with great speed and force from the side and cut the lich’s staff in half, before she flew across the room and rolled painfully across the marble floor.Bookmark here

Karak-Harth’s eyes widened as his precious weapon shattered in two.Bookmark here

Then, Arieon attacked.Bookmark here

The Will of the Goddess!” Arieon declared, thrusting his staff at Karak-Harth.Bookmark here

A vast, white beam shot out from the top of his staff, seemingly eviscerating everything in its path; however, it would only destroy what Arieon himself perceived to be an evil in the empire.Bookmark here

The room was basked in a bright white light, but only Karak-Harth screamed in agony as his body was torn to pieces.Bookmark here

“No!” He screamed as his arms were blown away. “No! This isn’t what was meant to happen!” One of his legs was destroyed next; then, the right side of his face. “Themis! I’ll never forgive you! A curse upon you and your empire!”Bookmark here

Karak-Harth’s body shattered into a million pieces.Bookmark here

Those pieces then began to evaporate in the air, leaving no traces of him behind.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

The death knights’ weapon had been an inch away from Julius’s neck when it came to a sudden halt.Bookmark here

Julius looked around him and saw that the entire undead horde had stopped moving.Bookmark here

Then, they all began to collapse.Bookmark here

Hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands.Bookmark here

The rattling, crashing sound of bones echoed throughout the city as more than half a million skeletons began to fall apart on the stone streets.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

There was a long, eerie silence after the battle came to its sudden end.Bookmark here

The defenders of Themis didn’t know what had happened, at first, and even when the undead began to fall, they didn’t move.Bookmark here

Then, someone started to cheer and it spread like a wildfire through the city.Bookmark here

“Victory!”Bookmark here

“We did it!”Bookmark here

“We won!”Bookmark here

“Praise Themis, we survived!”Bookmark here

“Thank you, Divine Caster and Divine Paladin. Thank you!”Bookmark here

Everyone smiled and laughed happily as relief overwhelmed them, Kella included.Bookmark here

Her exhausted legs finally gave out and she dropped to her knees crying tears of joy.Bookmark here

They had won and David hadn’t appeared.Bookmark here

The city had been badly damaged and there would be thousands of dead but, in that moment, all Kella felt was happiness.Bookmark here

The cheering kept getting louder and louder as the defenders hugged, yelled to the heavens and thanked Themis that they’d survived.Bookmark here

Kella would’ve joined in if she wasn’t so tired.Bookmark here

She looked around her, just to assure herself that the nightmare was over, and she was happy to see countless bones scattered around.Bookmark here

Kella sighed in relief and then, she saw it.Bookmark here

The black knight standing amongst the ocean of skeletons.Bookmark here

Something’s wrong.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Kella’s eyes widened and she felt a nasty, unmistakable chill rush down her spine.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.