ANNO DOMINI ~Allium~ [Beta version]
***THANKS FOR READING!***
Hey, everyone! I came home today from a weeklong trip. I managed to edit one chapter during that time, so here it is.
BOOK 2, CHAPTER 28: TRESPASS
In the fusty, dark labyrinth of forgotten passageways made of cobblestone, brick, and cement, a high quality cloak swept through the dank air, guided by a simple flashlight to navigate.
The cloaked individual grabbed the cursed handle of one of the many old wooden doors, and the magic spell of instant death was warded off, allowing access to the cozy room behind it, filled with the soft popping of a fireplace.
Baal was sitting at the mahogany table in his expensive, tufted club chair (a different chair since the last meeting, but no less expensive at $699.99 on clearance!).
“You have a shitload of time to waste,” Baal snorted, “because you keep coming here to speak with me.”
The guest closed the door.
“Regal told me something earlier today,” the guest said, moving toward the table, “and I think you should know.”
The demon scowled. “What’s that?”
Stopping next to the empty chair, not taking a seat, the disguised individual replied, “Regal said there are others with superhuman abilities, not just me, him, and Erik…when Erik still had his powers.”
Deep creases appeared on the rotund face of the demon’s human façade.
“So, you know now,” Baal growled, his teeth catching the dancing glint from the fireplace. “Did they need magic to do what they did?”
“I’m not sure.”
Baal leaned forward and rested his thick arms on the table. “Yes, other sorcerers exist, but they rely on magic. Their abilities are not their own. Only you and your clients have the kind of power that makes magic obsolete…unless a bloodbath is brewing…and that ain’t good…”
The guest sensed the growing aggression in the demon, and needed to carefully word the explanation of the people Regal had mentioned.
“He told me those other people tried to stop him. They are our enemies.” They clenched their gloved fists. “Also…I have a bad feeling. It’s like Regal lost his powers, just like Erik lost his!”
Baal stood up abruptly, knocking his heavy club chair off its feet. Leaning with his hands on the table, he stared downward for a few moments, wearing a frightening expression of anger and concentration.
“Hrrmmm…” The demon uttered a guttural rattle from his throat. He straightened up and crossed his arms. “You say the man you call Regal has lost his powers. Fortunately, I can sense his effect. Good, good.”
The guest’s body was still as stone, the concealed head facing Baal. “His ‘effect’?”
“But,” Baal furrowed his brow as he searched the waves of energy fluttering through the city, “it’s hard to get an accurate reading. There are too many damn reactions of the esoteric energies at all times, so I don’t know what a result of anything is.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” the fake voice muttered.
“I’m just talking to myself.”
“You never make sense when you talk about the ‘esoteric energies’ and ‘nonphysical waves.’”
“That’s because your squishy, biological brain is shit compared to the sentience of the universe!” Baal pounded his fist on the mahogany table. He cleared his throat. “The one you call Regal was given his powers for a special purpose, and I can sense that purpose has been fulfilled. Consider it a job finished, with or without him. Same goes for Erik.”
“I was surprised.” The fake voice was breathy through the dust mask. “Regal’s powers were incredible. His abilities went far beyond my expectations.”
“Of course,” Baal replied, rolling his eyes. “That’s what we need, because we’re changing the world here. Little guns can rob stores, and canons can invade countries, but bombs change the world.” His infernal grin was practically red-hot. “And we have the biggest bombs there are.”
“Things won’t be the same from now on,” the cloaked individual uttered, their posture slouching barely an inch. “Those people I targeted…those officials I saw in those nightmares I had…it’ll cause problems without them around.”
“They aren’t dead…are they?” Remorse perhaps softened the fake voice. “That magic you taught me to use on them and the med lab technicians…it just made them disappear.”
Baal shrugged. “It’s that simple. You made them go away.”
“But are they dead?”
“Think of it as ‘banishment.’ Besides, you don’t have the luxury of getting cold feet or feeling guilt.”
Brushing aside the harrowing sensations fuming from the demon, the disguised individual asked, “So…what about the other people with powers?”
“You acknowledged them as our enemies,” Baal grunted, setting the chair upright again before plopping down in it. “Take them out. Banish them, kill them, rape them, do whatever you want.”
“That much I know to do…”
“Then why are you wasting time? It’s your duty to find these things out. Start with Erik and Regal. Extract as much information from them as you can, why they failed, and who was responsible.”
“Yes…that’d be an excellent way to pay them back for failing. I like that idea. I’ll have to time it well, so it may take a while.”
“In the meantime,” Baal said, “go where other gifted humans may be. If they have powers, but didn’t sign with you, then they probably won’t do us any good, so learn what you can and snuff them out.”
“Where should I look for them?”
The demon rubbed his forehead in aggravation. “Blah…I don’t know. Try the guardians of the Chashman Artifact. I doubt the keepers of hidden history left the artifact with normal people who can’t fend off a hell-spawn or two.”
“The artifact’s guardians.” The masked guest crossed their arms and nodded. “The Chashman Artifact was kept at Saint Baptiste Monastery.”
“Go there and put the squeeze on the people living there,” Baal said. “See what you can learn from them, if they know about Regal or Erik. I’m curious about them, myself, seeing as I sent one of my lesser hell-spawns to steal the Chashman Artifact, which succeeded. However, that particular spawn has been absent recently…and I doubt it evolved or moved on.”
“That was an odd hell-spawn,” the masked guest commented. “It had a stupid knack for destroying manmade locks for no reason, even though it could pass through walls.”
“It did that.”
“But I learned how to mimic that lock-breaking ability with magic, and it’s been useful, like at the medical lab.” A rectangle of energy appeared in the gloved grasp: Regal’s counterfeit cardkey to Agrarian-Schism. “It helped me develop other methods of breaking into places. Now I don’t always need to destroy the locks.”
Baal grunted, somewhat amused.
“Hell-spawn are bizarre and do pseudo-human crap,” the demon said, “as if trying to mimic humanity. There’s a relationship with the human id and the dark energies, though. Anyway, the one sent to bring the Chashman Artifact was perfect for the task, a natural thief of the night! It could even pull physical objects out of the physical world, then bring them back into the physical world elsewhere! That’s precisely why I selected it to steal the artifact. Very rare ability for those runts…it’s a shame it disappeared.”
Baal pondered for a few seconds, his eyes directed upward.
“Although,” he continued, “it’s possible it was attracted to something at the monastery, such as gifted humans. This has happened many times before. It could’ve foolishly returned there, resulting in it being defeated…if there are any gifted humans there at all.”
“Why don’t you go see for yourself?” the guest asked.
“I keep telling you I can’t do those kinds of things. It’s not in my directives, and the very existence of angels means demons can’t just do whatever, otherwise we’d enslave the human race, which would be nice. Instead, I’m stuck supervising you and running a school full of asshole teenagers.” He rubbed his forehead again and sighed. “More importantly, you need to do these things on your own to learn for yourself how the world truly works, and all my talk about ‘esoteric energies’ may one day make sense to you. Prove yourself to me and fulfill your duties, because that’s the only way you can transcend.” Baal’s eyes assumed reptilian coldness, staring at the guest across the mahogany table. “Doesn’t transcendence sound glorious?”
“Then I’ll go to the monastery now,” the cloaked individual said, turning toward the door. “I’ll see for myself what those people are about. I know some magic spells that’ll help, and I’ll show you that magic is useful even though I have non-magical abilities.”
“Don’t be reckless,” Baal said, but cracked a devilish sneer, “unless you want to have some fun. Just watch your ass.”
Stopping at the door, the guest muttered, “Nothing is fun to me…only important.”
“Is that so?” the demon grumbled. “You mean to tell me you aren’t messing with me right now for fun?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You can’t fool me!” Baal bellowed. “I can see through your trick!”
The guest stiffened. “Then you can see what I am capable of. You see what I’m doing right now.”
Baal picked his teeth for a moment. “I can, but don’t think some humans can’t.”
“I don’t need your warnings,” the guest said before exiting. “Just watch!”
Alone in the room, Baal leaned back in his chair, chuckled, then guffawed, his hearty belly laughs filling the quaint little room.
“What a fool you are! That’s why you’re perfect for this.” After calming down, he turned the club chair to face the fireplace. “You’ve been keeping secrets from me…but I know them all.” He laughed out loud. “An arrogant lowlife like you is just what I need. Bless your damned soul.”
An evening cold front from the north brought blustery chills into the Chicagoland area. All the monks and nuns of Saint Baptiste had gone to bed, and the monastery settled into its nighttime docility, even as the northern winds whipped around its highest peaks and down into even the most enclosed courtyards.
However, Sister Farrah Elaina had skipped curfew, an act of defiance against the policy. Knowing this, she made her way through the sleeping monastery to the chapel; her unrest had spurred her to seek further spiritual guidance on her own.
She took care to move without her footsteps echoing down the corridors. When she entered the windy courtyard, her pace quickened as she was now without fear of producing too much noise, and she approached the chapel building, then delicately pushed open one of the chapel’s large double doors.
There was no need to sneak anymore; Father Buck Dood was also in the chapel.
The priest was sitting on the floor at the altar, his legs tucked horizontally parallel underneath him, resting his buttocks on his heels with his right big toe on top of his left one. He had learned of this formal sitting style, known as seiza, while on a sabbatical in Japan many years ago, and sometimes assumed the position when praying.
Upon hearing someone enter the chapel, he saw Sister Farrah standing in the doorway.
“Sister Farrah?” He stood up, doing so properly as according to formal Japanese custom. “Why are you here? It is after hours.”
The young nun lowered her head in apology.
“I apologize, Father,” she said quietly, yet her lack of hesitation matched the unwavering expression on her face. “I feel the need for further meditation, and the chapel is the most hallowed place and resistant against evil, so I thought it best to come here.” Looking at Father Dood, she added, “Might I ask you the same, Father?”
With a quick smile, the sturdy priest replied, “The kinship we share is strong, Sister Farrah. I have come here for the same reasons.” He looked up at the largest stained glass window in the chapel, a translucent mural of Jesus Christ, full of colors above the altar; it was difficult to make out in the absence of sunlight. “My mind is clouded by uneasiness these days. The reports of excessive hunger among the residents also bothers me, because it has already been difficult to secure food rations, but I am mostly disturbed by the impeccable timing of both of those facts at once.”
“I am unable to make sense of those facts,” the young nun said, hanging her head again. “I have done nothing to bring upon such an appetite, yet the inanition lingers, as it does with everyone else here.”
“It is most peculiar,” Father Dood replied.
Still, Sister Farrah smiled. “But there is the good news we must not forget. Aleph-Naught has said the man Regal Landers has been cured of his curse, and the dark energies have returned to normal, according to my prayers.”
“Indeed,” the priest said with a nod. “I do wish Aleph-Naught’s superiors were more communicative, though. Their letters have never been so infrequent until recently.”
“And then there’s Aleph-One,” the young nun added. “Although you and I have never met Aleph-One in person, I find it especially unprofessional to have remained silent for this long.”
“Yes,” Father Dood said. “This all leads me to believe they are taking their time because of the enormity of these recent events.” He walked toward her. “These trials we face are difficult, and it is time for—”
He stopped. The sullen expression on the priest’s face worried Sister Farrah. His eyes widened and jaw dropped as he drew a sharp breath.
“Father, what is wrong?” the young Afghani asked.
He stood tall. “The main gate has been breached.”
Instantly, Sister Farrah’s physical senses heightened. A breach in the gate most likely meant trouble.
“Your Twelve Pearls spell only alerts you when the gate itself is compromised,” Sister Farrah murmured. “It’s been damaged, then.”
The priest held his eyes shut for several seconds, reading the feedback from his Twelve Pearls spell.
“Yes,” Father Dood said in a hushed tone as his eyes opened, and he moved close to the young nun, “it seems the lock was destroyed.”
“Seems so.” The sturdy priest cracked his knuckles as every combative instinct suddenly surged; his military training and tai chi studies had not atrophied during the years of priesthood, as his path of enlightenment included preserving that experience. “However, this intruder is more foolish and less stealthy than the Chashman Artifact thief.”
“I’ll invoke my evacuation technique,” Sister Farrah said. “It will be difficult to localize the effect so it does not include our fellow followers, who must remain where they are in their quarters.”
Elsewhere in the monastery, the intruder darted along the exteriors of the buildings, doing well to stay out of sight within the darkness of the night, using the obscurity to their advantage. The quality brown cloak swished with the softest sound a high-end fabric could produce, like silk in springtime air.
With the lack of light, while wearing sunglasses, the intruder found navigating through the monastery was challenging. As the obscured intruder tucked into a shadowy nook in the largest courtyard, they strained their eyes while gazing at the large chapel-looking structure across the opening. A constant cloud of doubt hung over their head: If there were, in fact, any gifted humans in the monastery, would they be aware of the presence of an intruder?
“Night Vision,” the altered voice muttered. When nothing happened, they clenched their gloved fists. “Damn, I still can’t get that one right. Whatever…Thermal Vision.”
A web of magical algorithms spread across the intruder’s retinas, which captured the infrared radiation emitted from all physical objects, then converted it to electrical impulses into the optic nerves, effectively resulting in thermal vision. With this magic, the intruder saw nobody in the current area, and cancelled the spell.
New magical algorithms fixated themselves around the intruder’s ears, which tunneled extra soundwaves into the ear canals. More magical formulas latched onto the complex organs in the middle and inner ears, improving sound conductivity while also protecting the organs from damage caused by excessive volume.
Two voices were heard coming from inside the chapel-shaped building. Two people were speaking, a man and woman, and their hushed tones indicated suspicion and urgency.
Inside the chapel, Sister Farrah finished her evacuation technique.
“The spell is in effect,” she said, “and I have succeeded in omitting the residential quarters.”
“We must alert Aleph-Naught,” Father Dood told the young nun. “Our fellow followers of faith need to be protected.”
A loud bang resounded through the chapel, and the large double doors flung open, colliding into, and damaging, the stone wall on both sides of the entrance. The hefty hinges were bent from the force, and both doors hung lopsided, unable to swing on their own.
Sister Farrah retained her composure. “The evacuation did not work?” She immediately brandished her meteorite cubit rod. “Forgive me, Father, but I took my cubit rod from your office without permission.”
“Permission not needed,” Father Dood murmured, stiffening his body. He kept his eyes on the hooded figure stepping through the chapel entrance. “If the technique has failed, then the insurgent may not be human.”
The cloaked individual cancelled their Hearing Aid spell, and they stared through pitch-black sunglasses at the sturdy priest and steadfast nun, who most likely possessed special abilities, judging by their quick reactions and militant stances.
“Identify yourself!” Father Dood bellowed, his voice heavy with authority.
Not answering, the masked intruder approached. However, a tiring sensation leapt through them as they stepped inside the chapel, making them stumble a bit. At the most hallowed place in Saint Baptiste Monastery, the disguised intruder was immediately affected.
The priest strode forward. “I don’t know if you can understand me, but I can tell you are of foul denomination. Your reaction here is typical for your kind.”
“How petty,” the intruder said in a chastising tone, regaining their posture. “A little discomfort will not slow me down.”
The voice coming through the dust mask sounded normal, but far too normal to be natural. It was featureless and plain, making it difficult to determine the speaker’s gender.
Yet, Father Dood recognized it, and stopped walking as soon as he heard it.
“That voice… That is not your own voice, but the voice of the Vox Obscurus magic. It’s been years, but such a voice will never be forgotten.” He stepped forward. “Where did you acquire that voice-changing magic?” he demanded.
Remaining silent, the disguised intruder stood motionless with their concealed face directed at the two prominent monastery residents.
Sister Farrah Elaina gripped her cubit rod with both hands, interlocking her fingers, and closed her eyes.
“I must focus,” she told herself. “My prayers will succeed in being answered.”
Under her breath, she called the name of her prayers and sent them out. There was no noticed indication of her magic at work as it swarmed and penetrated the vile intruder, gathering information in a code only the young nun could interpret.
This was a mistake. When her prayers were answered, however, she felt her mind unbutton and her muscles seize. In a matter of seconds, she lost control of herself entirely while panic-stricken.
“N-n-no!” she choked. “Nooo!”
Her eyes popped open; they saw nothing but the horrors her prayers returned to her. A rapid river of dreadful premonitions raged from the cloaked insurgent and poured into her with devastating effect, like acid stripping her soul away layer by agonizing layer.
The cubit rod fell to the stone floor, dull and cold, as Sister Farrah’s body locked up, keeping her on her feet. She shrieked with earsplitting pitches, making her throat raw.
“Sister Farrah!” Father Dood had never seen the young nun behave as such, and it scared him. “What’s wrong?”
Consequentially, the masked intruder had unintentionally invaded Sister Farrah’s mind and spirit. Fear and evilness, in their purest forms, were steadily carried back to her, revealing the depths of nightmares, caverns of torture, and essence of infernal actuality…and it gleefully ripped her spirit apart without mercy.
She finally lost balance and collapsed to the floor, hitting hard as her eyes rolled into the back of her head, exposing the veins amid the whiteness.
“Stop!” She clawed at her ears with the intent to tear them off. “I don’t want to hear it! I don’t want to hear it!”
And yet, the prayers continued to relay their answers to the fullest; they never stopped until every bit of information she’d requested was retrieved, as this was a fundamental aspect of the ability.
Father Dood pinned the nun on the ground, holding her arms as they flailed toward her bloody ears. She convulsed, her eyes still showing all white, foam bubbling from her mouth. The sturdy priest had difficulty restraining her, as her excessive physical strength was not fueled by any special abilities, but was the result of her body going haywire.
Seconds later, Sister Farrah seized up, and her breathing seemed on the verge of stopping. She needed immediate care, either medical or otherwise, but the intruder would not give that opportunity.
The gloved hands became shrouded in white mist-smoke, and the intruder stretched them out as far as possible…
…And they held the position, as if holding time still, holding the priest and everything inside the chapel.
Yet, time was still moving. Father Dood was stunned by the influx of flowing energy, but he regained his grasp on the encounter, and closely observed the magical formulas weaving through the surrounding space.
This person is influencing the molecular and spiritual attributes of the environment. Father Dood quickly applied his own magical formulas. I can match their formulas if I convert the symbolism to conventional mathematics, and I can cancel or repel them.
Another person appeared in the damaged chapel doorway, shorter, also wearing a hood: Aleph-Naught.
She took one look at the cloaked individual—she didn’t like them. Something felt corrupt.
“What—what is going on?” Al demanded. Her ruby red bandalore was already in the sleeping position, whirling and whistling more by the second, glowing brightly. “The evilness here is so strong that it woke me up! What the hell is happening?”
She gasped when she saw the young nun on the ground, blood on her ears, cheeks and hands, not moving and foaming at the mouth.
“Sister Farrah!” She glared at the hooded intruder. “This was your doing!”
No response followed, only the push of great magical techniques erupting from all directions, sealing all exits with invisible energies to convert the chapel to a tomb. Father Dood reacted with his own magic, mounting an opposing, geometric setup of apt formulas, and locked them in three-dimensional angles into the intruder’s spell structures.
But it still proved difficult. The priest had impressive understanding of the magic, and using geometry for mostly invisible phenomena of such high energy required acute spiritual discipline, not to mention mental concentration.
Arms still outstretched amid a cesspool of vile fluctuations, the Vox Obscurus voice called out, “Tell me what you know about Regal Landers and Erik Hawthorne!”
While Al’s jaw dropped at the mentioned names, Father Dood did not falter. He grabbed the space in front of him, reminiscent of wrapping fingers around something.
“You are not welcome here!” the priest declared.
The cloak around the intruder was compressed, as if being squeezed. A quick adjustment in the intruder’s spells repelled the effect, but the priest was prepared for the resistance.
“These formulas are based in mathematics and geometry,” the priest explained to the disguised degenerate, “so all I must do is counteract your spells by interlocking them with my own, which is easy if I translate my spells into mathematics.” His brow furrowed, forming intimidating creases around his eyes. “And I’ll have you know this: This knowledge of mathematics is not my own, but granted to me by my gifts…therefore, my formulas far surpass typical human calculations.”
“I know that,” the fake voice replied, sounding haughty. The speed in the counterfeit voice increased with excitement and arrogance. “It’s the same for me, and that’s why you will lose this fight!”
Their gloved hands pulled inward, then pushed out again, changing the environmental influence.
They don’t seem to understand their own techniques. Father Dood could follow the potent, yet sloppy, shift of wicked forces. That flaw is favorable.
Al stood down, mesmerized and mortified by the magical interactions taking place, her thoughts racing while she watched the visible distortions appear to make space-time quiver.
These aren’t spells meant for attacking, she thought, keeping her ruby red bandalore spinning in place. No, there’s something much deeper happening here. This particular form of magic is rooted in reality…the language of the universe and its laws, foundations, and natural facts…and these two are manipulating it!
The blonde girl grit her teeth, feeling her heart beat quicker.
They’re using it against each other, clashing with their altered realities. This…is truly frightening.
The structure of the chapel warped as the wood, mortar, and reinforcement were malformed. Only each persons’ innate magical protection prevented their own bones from warping as well. However, there were missteps in the intruder’s motions, which the priest noticed.
“Aleph-Naught.” The calmness of Father Dood’s voice penetrated and vibrated aloud while he applied continuous counteractive magic. “This intruder can use dangerous and blasphemous magic, but they are inexperienced with it. Stop them!”
Al looped her bandalore, sending it into shrilling orbits around her.
“Got it!” she replied. A deep, refreshing breath filled her lungs before she shouted, “Prometheus Incarceration!”
A blinding explosion startled the intruder, interrupting their foul magic to some extent. The thick sunglasses protected against the flash, but they noticed something unexpected: Walls of flames, rising into the high reaches of the chapel airspace, up into the rafters.
And it was hot—blazing—and the magically malformed wood holding up the walls, floors, and ceiling were already crackling from the heat.
Despite the danger of such a spell inside a partially wood building, Father Buck Dood admired the inferno that concealed the cloaked insurgent.
So, that is Prometheus Incarceration, the renowned spell created solely by Aleph-Naught. I had heard the accounts, but this is the first time I’ve witnessed it. He smiled at the blonde girl controlling the fiery effects with gorgeous yo-yo loops and tricks, the spell’s heat felt from his distance. Her body and clothes are impervious to the temperature, and the oxygen inside the circle of flames is spared, keeping the victim awake while they burn. I can only speculate how complex her magical formulas are. She is an Aleph, after all. How such a young girl is capable of such destructive techniques…is frightening, indeed.
The intruder pulled lethal amounts of negative energy into themselves, shuddered in pain with darkness as their body was harmed by the wickedness, then mended and reinstated their formulas of influence. Father Dood could see Al’s roaring flames weakening from the increase of vile magic, so he continued to strain and sweat to thwart the darkness with his clever angles and translations of geometry.
Beautiful lattices of magical destruction and creation locked together, at first chaotic angles, then slowly growing into the more structurally sound simple shapes. The intruder’s squares wobbled with frailty as Father Dood smothered them with his cubic arrangements of tri-fold integrity. As the priest felt his own cubic structures begin to crumble, he strained his mind and soul to force his new arrangement into hexagonal lattices, smiting the inferior evil cubic patterns. Next, he enforced the hexagons (with even more painful stress) with segmented triangular makeups, like rebar rungs, thus enhancing structural integrity.
Within the burning confines of Prometheus Incarceration, the intruder knew their magical array was being challenged by a formidable, experienced magic user: Father Buck Dood. However, Baal had said magic users were inferior…raw power should overwhelm the ignorant priest!
Yet, the cloaked individual was put further at odds when the priest called out the name of his next magical action.
“Might of Beryl!”
The magical geometry snapped into the next ideal step: a three-dimensional hexagonal lattice system of the hexagonal crystal system (matching the atomic arrangement within beryl crystals according to crystallography).
As a result, the intruder struggled to break down or improve upon the current angles in place, all with the searing walls of Prometheus Incarceration tightening around.
These aren’t shapes, Father Dood reminded himself through the mental stress, upholding his spell work. I mustn’t think of them as such, or I’ll fail to interpret what these magical formulas truly represent.
The intruder moved their arms in unorganized motions, wildly and carelessly scrambling the shadowy abilities they commanded. Molecules threatened to shift into disarray, posing the possibility of creating random, unnatural chemical reactions, most explosive, toxic, or corrosive.
Quick ingenuity assisted the priest’s puzzle-piece spell placing, but the frantic dark shapes were constantly changing, growing stronger.
Father Dood watched the changes, studying them, trying to anticipate their growth.
They’re rearranging the current formulas into larger patterns? It looks as if they’re attempting to create geometric fractal spirals…
He prepared a reversal in response, but he stopped. The details of the spiraling spell shapes caught his attention, and he needed another moment to observe their nature.
What is that? Father Dood wondered. It’s very complex, and its beauty is entrancing. All the more reason to be wary of it!
His heart quickened and sweat intensified. True, he was frightened by the elaborate cones of twisting, multiplying, magical strands drilling and burrowing into reality, burying their spiraling roots into the threads of natural order.
Al groaned as she struggled to uphold her waning flames, catching glimpses of the disguised heathen within. “I don’t like the looks of this. What the hell kind of spell are they using?”
This will be challenging to counteract, Father Dood thought as he attempted to choke the frantic, fractal drills with oppressive molds, but to no avail. I need to know what mathematical formula to translate to, and actually doing it will be tricky…not to mention this is a growing pattern that I must keep up with…
Alas, the vile magic changed again, with vengeful impact.
Nonrepeating sequences of golden ratios and silver ratios looped into uncountable chains without end, the repeating patterns approaching astronomical length…and then they linked, forming circular rings.
The fractal drills popped out of form, completing a perfect arrangement of flawless circles and spheres everywhere. At that moment, Father Dood experienced a lapse in consciousness as pieces of space-time disappeared into unfathomable voids of infinity.
All of this was the result of the cloaked heathen completing π with their shapely magic. π, an irrational figure and transcendental number in mathematical calculations, had trumped Father Dood’s geometric interpretations of the formulas.
“Because these aren’t shapes,” the priest muttered sternly. Tired and dripping sweat, he hunched over and gripped his knees for support, feeling the aftershock of his structural, high-energy magic being knocked down.
Al saw Father Dood stumble, and she could feel the presence of his magic deteriorate, all while her Prometheus Incarceration slowly lost strength as the circular magic began to create rifts in reality. The warping of the environment worsened, and Al’s body began to tingle from the foulness reaching the point of overriding her body’s resistance against that warping.
“Oh no you don’t!” Al shouted. “Take this!”
The intruder had their guard up as Al tossed her yellow H-shaped butterfly yo-yo (when did she swap it?) into the air, where it exploded into a fireball with wings. Above the peak of fiery prison walls, the winged flame directed its white-hot center at its target; when Al snapped her arm down, the winged flame shot at the cloaked heathen with supersonic speed.
With great dexterity, the intruder blocked the attack with their gloved hands, although keeping it at bay was strenuous, as the blazing cannonball propelled itself forward with more thrust than a jet engine. Squeezing their hands together, the masked assailant snuffed out the winged blaze, and the flaming walls of Prometheus Incarceration disappeared for good. There was only mild singeing of the gloves and quality cloak, indicating some sort of protection within the fabrics.
A backwash of magical tides rushed into Al, and she fell to her knees as the yellow H-shaped bandalore body, drained of its magic, tumbled to the smoking ground at the intruder’s feet. However, thwarting the blazing attack required them to abandon the vile spellcasting, and the circular disruptions vanished alongside Al’s fires.
Tingling weakness stifled the strength in Father Dood’s legs, but he remained standing. He directed his attention to Sister Farrah on the ground, who was squirming mindlessly, but still breathing. Next to her was the meteorite-carved cubit rod, and the priest snatched it up without delay.
With simple magic, the priest wrapped the cubit rod in energy, aimed it at the disguised assailant, and fired it like a torpedo. The foe was struck in the right shoulder with enough force to nearly knock them down, and faint patches of red appeared on the stone floor beneath them.
It was blood. The cloaked heathen could bleed.
The intruder grunted, holding their wound, which bought Al enough time to land a powerful hit to their masked head with her emerald green, traditionally-shaped bandalore (equipped too fast to be noticed). Using the momentum, she kept looping her attacks, striking quickly and painfully with whipping strikes. Her masked opponent couldn’t follow the attacks, failing to effectively track and block her ruthless onslaught, receiving blow after blow. However, the heathen possessed great resilience and stamina, which made up for their lack of coordination as they continued taking hits.
They suck at dodging, Al thought as she kept attacking, but they’re tough. Also, I can feel their negative energy sucking the magic out of my bandalore with each hit, so I need to end this quickly!
Predicting the next strike, the assailant swatted the bandalore away with their left hand. The glowing, green body soared around, coming from the right, and the assailant blocked again with their right hand.
Al wound the bandalore up its string and grabbed it with her right hand, the same hand the string was tied to. Not missing a beat, she tossed the body down and let it sleep, boosting its powers as its green shine pierced the chapel’s dim interior. While it slept, she moved the string behind her right upper arm, letting it hang from her arm just above the elbow.
The intruder saw this stagnant position as an opportunity to attack, and they charged forward.
“Rapture,” the fake voice croaked. A sinful spell covered their gloves, making the hands burn black with spiteful energy. “Just one touch!”
“Ha!” Al sneered. “Gotcha!”
With a slight tug, Al snapped the bandalore body up the string, then flung it forward at the right moment over her arm, bringing it down in an arc motion. The screeching green bandalore smashed the assailant over the head, knocking them to the ground, the spiteful magic around their gloves dissipating.
“A regular loop attack would’ve been predictable,” Al snickered at the downed opponent, “so I used the simplest trick in the book, called ‘around the corner’! Pretty good, right?”
A rumble of wicked forces shook the monastery as the cloaked individual clambered back to their feet, gripping their head beneath the hood. Father Dood ran forward and used another simple magical technique to push the intruder back with an energy wave emitted from his hands. As the assailant stumbled, the priest moved in, kicked them down, and assembled a magic-dispelling ability.
I know the Vox Obscurus configuration, Father Dood thought, positioning himself over the trespasser. He slammed his knee into their chest and pinned them. I can easily nullify it!
Al rushed over and held the gloved hands down.
“They tried using some kind of magic,” she said through strained efforts to keep the intruder’s hands at bay. “They mentioned ‘just one touch,’ so we can’t let them use their hands!”
“Begone, false voice!” Father Dood bellowed. “Chanticleer!”
He held his hands at the masked face, stitching together magical forces to rip at the Vox Obscurus spell responsible for the disguised voice. This simultaneously held the assailant in place, as if gripping them by their Vox Obscurus spell itself, inches from the black ski mask.
The cloaked person began to break away, threatening to overpower the sturdy priest and blonde girl with the raw forces of doom flowing from their concealed body. When the final fragments of voice-changing magic were dissolved, Father Dood’s hold on the spell was lost, and he dropped the hooded head to the floor while driving his knee into the cloaked torso.
“Now a part of you is unmasked,” the sturdy priest told the foe. “If you wish to reapply that magic here, you must call its name with your true voice, and do so loudly, as Vox Obscurus requires you to shout its name!” Father Dood’s face seemed to harden into rock as he growled, “And after having dozens of comrades and fellow followers die in my arms, I never forget a person’s shout.”
While Father Dood slid his hand into the cloaked neck to pull the ski mask off, a loud, despairing breath sucked in through the dust mask over the mouth.
“Rapture,” they whispered, barely audible, careful not to use their vocal cords.
Al stood on the insurgent’s forearms as the gloved hands were enveloped in sinful darkness. She spun her ruby red bandalore over her head, having once again switched the body, waited until the very moment it shone with the desired potency, then slammed it into the ground.
She and Father Dood leapt away at the last second as entire portions of the chapel’s stone floor spewed upward from beneath the assailant, who was blasted off the ground and carried with the fountain of debris. The Terra Geyser ability bombarded the disfigured, scorched ceiling and put out the burning rafters, eventually breaking through and taking the cloaked heathen with it. Pieces of rubble and dirt showered the windy courtyard, and the intruder was tossed onto the slanted rooftop before tumbling onto the ground outside.
“Let’s go get ‘em!” Al barked, making for the exit with broken doors hanging on either side.
At the sound of gagging and whimpering, Father Dood turned to see Sister Farrah attempting to tear her ears off once more.
“You go,” he told Al before rushing to the nun’s side to subdue her.
In the courtyard, Al found the intruder regaining their balance, their hands still swarming with the Rapture spell, and they tried to run away. She threw a bandalore strike, hitting the foe’s back and causing them to stumble, but not stopping them.
“Get back here!” she screeched, retracting her ruby red yo-yo that glowed a deep red.
Several strides away from the chapel, the intruder felt a spiritual weight lifted off them. Yes, the chapel seemed to have a detrimental effect on their powers, it seemed. Now that they were outside, they were ridded of that pesky effect.
The red butterfly-shaped yo-yo soared around the cloaked person’s side as the string caught their legs, instantly wrapping around them several times and tripping them. They hit the ground, but felt nothing from the fall. A second later, while lying face up in the grass, they were struck directly in the chest and pushed into the ground with enough magical force to blow out the soil…but they felt nothing from the hit.
Crap, they’re stronger outside the chapel, Al thought.
She retracted her weapon and leapt forward, ready to unleash a barrage of brutal, mid-range bandalore strikes. The assailant, still in the crater they had been crushed into, cancelled the Rapture spell, absorbed an agonizing quantity of evil energy, and unleashed it in a crude wave. The nightly avalanche engulfed Al, lifting her from the ground and sending her reeling backward.
“Arrghh!” she groaned, writhing in the grass from the dastardly presence that had shook her bones and scratched her soul. “What…the hell was that?”
Blackness surrounded her, ever so slowly receding to return her vision. When the world around her began to reappear, and the violating sensations faded out, she could see the intruder’s hands covered in the Rapture spell again as they climbed from the crater. She scrambled to her feet and whipped up another spell with her bandalore; her impairment did not prevent her from completing the complex string tricks she had memorized.
She glared at the oncoming enemy. “I don’t know what that evil spell on your hands is, but you won’t get a chance to use it! I’ve been taking it easy with my Terra Geyser to avoid destruction, but you’ve forced my hand. Time to crank it up a little!” The red bandalore blazed around her with enough magic to interrupt the powerful winds blowing through the courtyard, and she slammed it into the grass. “Terra Geyser!”
An earthen, grassy explosion resulted. As the disguised assailant disappeared within the upward debris, Al couldn’t help but smirk at her own ability. The geyser had a diameter more than twenty-five feet across and reached higher than the most impressive peaks at Saint Baptiste; it was almost three times larger than when she had ever used the spell in Chicago.
The cloaked figure fell from the dark orange sky, bounced off the ground, and didn’t move. However, Al dropped to her knees.
“I’m about out of magic,” she muttered. “I don’t know how much longer I can continue…”
She was helped to her feet. Father Dood had come to her aid.
“Where’d they go?” he asked gruffly.
Although it was dark and her vision hadn’t fully recovered, the blonde girl could see the hooded heathen stand again, a remarkable feat after taking the punishment they had.
“There!” Al pointed, rubbing her eyes as they throbbed; her entire body hurt from the dark attack.
Father Dood watched the assailant run off, albeit limping and clumsy, before they vanished into the shadows.
“They seem to have escaped.” The priest’s words were grim. “Are you able to walk?”
Al staggered forward, dizzy and impaired. “Grr, kinda. I’m fine.”
“We need to help Sister Farrah Elaina right away,” Father Dood said, walking back to the chapel.
“Huh?” Al squinted at the blurry image of the priest marching away, and she clumsily followed. “She looked hurt. Is it serious?”
“Yes,” Father Dood called back without stopping, “I fear she is hurt far beyond our ability to heal.”
Back inside the chapel, Al’s vision had mostly recovered. When Father Dood knelt to check on the young nun lying on the ground, Al cringed at what she saw and heard.
Sister Farrah’s eyes were rolled back, showing the veiny whiteness. Her mouth was foaming as she babbled incoherently. Bloody scratch marks surrounded her ears, and her entire body twitched like a headless insect.
“We must not assume the fiend is gone or won’t return soon,” Father Dood said, glancing at the damaged double doors. “Keep alert. We must take shelter and protect everybody here, spare no caution.”
No words came to Al as Father Dood lifted the young nun over his tired shoulder and carried her toward the exit at a jogging pace.
“Please retrieve the cubit rod.” That’s all he said to the blonde girl.Al complied, picking up the weapon, which was much heavier than it appeared, like solid gold, and she followed Father Dood out of the ruined chapel.