Chapter 1:

Prologue - 1 year later

Downcaster


The tower wavered against the powerful shots from all the Downcasters gathered. A dozen more and the tower will collapse, but until then; Teph and his crew have to fend off the multiple waves of troops collected to fight their tiny rebellious faction - a mere 400-man squad; with 100 reserved soldiers.

"Formations," bellowed Teph under the heavy attacks they received from heavily armored infantry soldiers, "find another partner if you have lost yours, do not let them overwhelm you with their numbers. We have terrain and tactical advantage". That got a little more confidence in his soldiers, almost immediately after his call. Unfortunately, only he knew that in a couple more hours their group would be decimated.

The battle prolonged for a little while before Teph spotted a group of 5 individuals zipping a few hundred paces across from them. Oh no he thought. He was the onlyDowncaster in his group that wasn't occupied with shooting down the tower. But, without him, his squad would lose their strongest vessel and captain to give them moral support. He had to think really quickly; his decision could turn the tide of battle either way. He checked his pocket and thankfully it was there.

He had two options: stick with the squad and hope those Downcasters don't engage them now or face the more logical option and challenge those three into battle. He had to choose the harder choice, but sometimes those harder choices are the right ones - it just depended if you were up to the challenge or not. Luckily for him; he was an experienced Downcaster and couldn't be taken down easily. He checked his reserves and it was enough or so he told himself. Taking a deep breath, he scanned his squad and recognized Entz fighting at the back - his sub squad was doing relatively well.

"Hiss boy," Teph shouted, "three casters across from us."

"I know," he replied a second later

“I'll see if I can take them down by myself,” Teph shouted back, struggling against a few soldiers who intercepted him as walked towards Entz.

"Take care cap, don't get yourself killed!"

"I won't die before I know that weird thing about you lad," Teph said as he ripped an enemy soldier's head - 7 men killed in a matter of seconds.

Teph slowly closed into Entz and his squad of three and whispered into his ears "should anything go wrong, take care of the men," 

“I won't,” Entz replied back holding his arm onto Teph's shoulder "because you are going to lead us out of this hell captain". Teph smiled and embraced the man. Entz saluted his captain and Teph sucked in air and pushed himself into the air.

Downcasting was a strange phenomenon that scientists knew little of at the time. Their simplest explanation was that: Downcasting was like stamina; strain it and you would be left drained and exhausted; minimize its use and you are left lethargic and unable to do much work. It was about finding the right balance between the two. It took practice and a lot of time dedicated to just minimizing the use of Downcasting in the right way and using Downcasting in other ways than giving yourself energy was a whole other story.

Teph floated for a while, as he fell in an arc. Focusing his eyesight on the Downcaster across from him. They noticed he was tagging along, and so pushed a little farther from the warzone. The land ahead began transitioning into the neon-lighted city of Morshina. I have a bad feeling about this. He stopped following them after a few minutes. He thought that he dragged them out of warzone territory; now he would be able to get back in the 1/10th the time it took him before when using his Downcating at 50% of it's capability. Only a few in all of Molaar can rival Teph with Downcasting. Suddenly the wind screamed in agony as if a huge motor engine blasted him with its loud noise. Blue light crashed into the ground next to him. And there, he saw not one, not two or three, not even 4, but 5 downcasters circled around him. Oh no, thought Teph grinning to himself. I might actually die here.

****

“Squads of three, I need to see a hundred squads," he shouted, his voice spreading across the battlefield. He spotted another group of Downcasters right after Teph disappeared, but thankfully they weren’t heading to his army. I pray to the one and only god of us all that that man is alive. He hadn’t time to care about where the man he respected most disappeared to, now he was in charge of the last 200 plus 100 reserved men army.

He appointed 6 squads of the best men he knew that could fight with him and charged the enemy from atop a rock that split the battlefield in the middle. The team of 18 men jumped in the midst of the enemy's soldiers crashing right in the middle of them. They were left dazed for a moment and that was exactly what Entz needed. He sucked in air and let his hands take control of him.

Entz was a different young man with the sword in his hand. He didn’t think, he didn’t care, he let his hands do the thinking and he trusted those two fists of his. Hissing was still odd to him, Teph only briefly explained what it does, but he told him that he was a natural at it. He maneuvered the wind around him trying his best to push enemies out of their balance. His squad wasn’t to be underestimated, but what could a group of 18 men do if 100 other men ganged up on them. Luckily his plan worked and slowly their group were able to push their opposition’s front line behind, giving time for the rest of the army to rework their attacks. Little by little, they were making progress, but in life nothing was as easy as it seems. And, unfortunately for him, a Downcaster arrived.

Finally things are getting interesting, he thought. Harnessing all the wind around and commanded it to push him up in the sky. The Downcaster had a surprised look on his face, an averagely lengthened man, couldn’t dodge and had to form a quick Downcasted shield. It wouldn’t absorb the impact from Entz’s block, and it surprisingly didn’t absorb any of it. His downward momentum caused the Downcaster to stumble and fall into the ground, dazed for a second, entz tightened his grip on his sword’s hilt and regained balance quickly, he ran towards the Downcaster and intending to slit the man’s thought before he got back up. His hand moved for the blow, but a second later another man jumped moments before his sword made contact and caused them to crash into the ground furiously.

CRUNCH, he felt his backbone slightly crack; it wouldn't be fateful; not unless he stressed it. The man’s grip tightened; he was trying to break his back. Entz instinctively grabbed the hilt of his word and used the wind to strengthen his blow as he smashed it onto the man’s head. Blue light quickly floated protecting the man’s skull. You have got to be kidding me. Thankfully the man’s grip was let go and he quickly regained a defensive stance. Three men stood in the middle of dead bodies a few paces ahead was both armies engaged, his army lost two of their strongest vassals, he only hoped that two men in front of him were generals as well.

He was now going to have a fight for the death, one he wished would come, but was now having second thoughts.

It was a fight between One Hisser and Two Downcasters.

This is going to be fun, He thought smiling.

****

5 DOWNCASTERS, Teph thought how am I supposed to beat 5 Downcasters. He dodged every blow he received. Two of the Downcasters had charged poles that were roughly a meter in length each. He carefully disengaged himself from every blow, making sure not to make contact. When fighting a group of people you have to take each one of them out individually, dismantle their teamwork.

Luckily for him, the two with charged poles were the ones least experienced. Their moves were very rough and it seemed as if they were agitated. You two first, he thought.

He drew in the group towards him, they were in two rows and one was trailing behind them; he was the one the pole. Teph waited for the two in leading the rows to strike at the same time, then he moved most of his reserves to his legs, ducking as fast as can and springing himself towards the one in the middle - the one at the end. His legs glowed furiously, he drew his forward momentum and spin kicked the Downcaster ahead of him; feeling his ribs crack; he didn’t have time to react to the blow.

One down

A Downcaster could heal faster than a normal human being, but couldn’t heal in a fraction of a second; except if that Downcaster was Teph.

The other Downcaster; the one with the pole. Swung at him, he took advantage of Teph’s foolishness, a miscalculated step, a mistake that won’t be repeated.

Teph couldn’t dodge in time, but an experienced Downcaster as him, instinctively moved his some of his reserves, a cobalt transparent layer formed in a 1/100th of a second. It absorbed most of the impact - but not all of it. Teph would have suffered a life threatening injury. But, the blow shook his head, his mind buzzed, his thinking shook, but his legs skillfully pushed him from any danger giving space between the remaining four Downcasters. The four formed an arched layer in infront of him; they were growing confident now that he is dazed.

Teph smirked, that blow on his head pumped adrenaline all over his body. Instead of drawing them into a similar situation as before, this time, he attacked. Shaking off his stupefaction. He ran towards the most skilled this time. Charging Downsap in both his fists, Teph threw an over head kick; confusing his enemy with his motions. Tricked you, you little bastard. Teph then moved all of the Downsap remaining in his body towards his legs, maneuvering them at the man’s skull. His legs easily ripped through his target’s head. Three down, the Downcaster with the pole tried to pull the same trick, you fooled me once my friend, but not again. Teph quickly dodged the blow and grabbed the Downcaster’s hand absorbing the momentum and dissipating the force of the blow. He then tightly girpped him charging his arm with Downsap; crushing the bone. The remaining two Downcasters tried to seize the chance, but Teph had already anticipated their move. Grabbing the Downcaster with free hand and using him as shield blowing off their coordinated attack, while ensuring the Downcaster he used as shield perished as well.

Two more to go, Entz won’t survive any longer if I don’t get this over with. Teph’s goal wasn’t to beat these Downcasters it was to escape this shithole they have been suffering in for the past 250 years. Too many generations lost to beatings, malnutrition, and slavery. Too many lives lost just because they were unfortunate enough to be born in to the lowly group of this messed up society. Morshina was once a great city, but those lowly bastards took everything from Teph and his rebellious group.

That enraged him, tore him apart, broke him, but also fueled him. He screamed in agony at the ones he lost, the ones he loved. However, this time, the Downcasters were more coordinated. They carefully kept distance between him. Whilst, also charging Downsap in their fists. He noticed, he always kept an eye for hidden tricks, it's how he survived this messed up life he was brought up in. Never again would he let innocent lives be lost, Never again would he cower under those superior to him, he left everything behind him when he joined the rebellion. Now he would have to fight. He used all of it. All of the Downsap within him, he charged his whole body with it. Letting it consume him. His body glowed of cobalt mist evaporating from the pores of his skin. He was a different man when charged, all of his powers were at their maximum.

The two Downcaters panicked, in a moment he shot into one of them, the Downcaster already had his shield up, but he was unfortunate, when Teph was charged, nothing was stopping him. His hand stabbed right through the man’s chest. He felt his heart in his palms; pumping, his grabbed it and ripped it out. Air blowing on his face as their bodies zipped in the air; one alive, the other a dead corpse. One more, the other had already grown distanced from Teph, but he didn’t allow him to escape. In a moment, Teph had already covered what was between them and grabbed his target by the skull. He let Downsap seep into the man’s skull burning his eyes, then letting it consume his brain. What a terrible way to die. No one alive.

Teph found himself laying atop 4 corpses, the man tried to escape back into the city, but found himself dying with his other buddies. He fell to his knees gasping for, oxygen debt coming back hard on him. Fully charging yourself made you unstoppable, but only for a few moments; longer if you were experienced. Teph would be fine if he had a couple of hours of sleep. But, he had to go back. They were nothing without him.

He stood up fighting every urge to lay Down and relax. He faced the tower, it was large and majestic. The tower powered all of Morshina, the tower that if destroyed, would allow him freedom. He hoped that Jack and Korn would be done soon. Then he saw bright blue light coming from behind him, he turned around and almost fell from the fear that struck him. A few thousand paces ahead were what seemed a couple of hundred Downcasters.  He had no choice, but to use it. He grabbed his pockets and took it out. The device that if used could destroy everyone surrounding it. He looked it for a moment, thinking about what he was about to do, then with all determination, summoned the rest of Downsap inside of him and charged alone against hundreds of Downcasters. He would activate it as soon as he made contact. Hopefully, with the distance being relatively far, it won’t destroy his friends, but unfortunately, it would destroy him. He would never get to taste freedom, but it was worth dying knowing that he did his best. At least he would join her; the love of his life.

While moving in the air, he shot a large blue light into the sky, as a signal for Entz. Distanced closed between him and the army, he would die fighting those who feed on the misery of others, but that was worth dying for. Sorry everyone, he thought, it was the only way. And, as soon as he was able to make out the face of his enemy, he pressed it.

****

Entz was struggling between the two, fending and throwing every attack he could. But, two Downcasters, he was not experienced enough. But, then he saw something in the sky, a blue light emerged a kilometer or two across from him - he knew what it meant. I am sorry captain, you were one hell of a man. He then pushed himself in the air and used the wind as a medium to transport a brace for impact message to those he targeted. His army, within seconds, pulled back into the tower knowing what to expect next. A few struggled between the enemy’s arms, but luckily mostly everyone was unharmed before he was the last to enter, making sure to fend any of the enemies trying to follow them in. The Downcasters, however, disengaged for some reason. Were they aware of what was to come next or was Entz too much for them that they were thankful he gave them space for a short break, but he didn’t have time to think of the reason. Now they were going to have to worry about everything later because the next time they will open their eyes, they would be thankful to be alive.

The room inside was quite, everyone knew what was to come next, everyone knew that their beloved captain and a man they considered a role model for them sacrificed himself. Hopefully, he didn’t blow everyone to hell or heaven with him.

They heard a distinct noise, that sounded far. May the one and only true god of us all, be with us, Entz prayed. The walls vibrated, the land trembled, and everyone felt it. Then it hit, like a storm of beatings on your head, everything went dark, then white. Hopefully, they survived.