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fic - the faithful and the brave : 34 [novella] - the turnip patch
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fic - the faithful and the brave : 34 [novella]
Title:  The Faithful and the Brave
Part:  34

The Faithful and the Brave
Part 34

Dermail was gone.  Trant was perhaps gone as well, depending on how one defined such things.  A being that looked like Trant stood in his place, but there was an air of Other about him now.  It felt the same as those Templars fought beneath Orbonne.

"Yes," he hissed, ending it with a pleased laugh.  He looked at his hands, flexing them like he'd never seen them before.

Shouts rang out from the training field below, reminding them that they were in full view of the garrison, five strangers with weapons drawn around their commander.  Would the soldiers help or hinder?

Neither.  Shouts of a different sort started when the wargs came out of nowhere and started their attack.

Heero started his with no further hesitation.  He struck out and Trant sidestepped, looking far more skilled than he had as a mere garrison commander, and as he spun, he pulled a stave from out of nothing.  It rippled into being, its gnarled length glowing with intricate golden runes.  It was not a bladed weapon, but each strike seemed to carry with it an extra burst of impact.  Heero backed off to draw his second weapon, a long knife he had picked up in the desert.  He found travelling with a shield cumbersome, but thought it prudent to have a secondary ready to take the pressure off his sword arm, which was strong but still not quite one hundred percent.

Trowa stepped up to press the attack.  Trant's skill with the stave held no particular grace, but the power made up for it.  When Trowa leapt lightly out of the way of a strike, the stave hit the ground and left a shallow crater in its wake.

"Shit!" Duo shouted as warning.  A pack of goblins was scurrying their way.  Individually, the buggers weren't overly intimidating, but they had strength in numbers.  Two of them charged straight for Duo.  He dodged the flailing fists of the first and opened a long wound in the second as it jumped past him, leading with its teeth.  Quatre quickly aborted the spell he had been working to wield his staff against a third attempting to tackle Duo from behind.  Heero performed the same service for Trowa, distracting three of the creatures before they could distract the dragoon from his fight with Trant.

"Trowa!" Wufei barked.

He understood, and at the next good opportunity he leapt back.  Ice flew through the space left open.  Trant deflected several of the spears, and a few missed, but more hit the mark.  He took wounds to his torso, thighs, shoulder, a slash past his forehead that let loose a stream of blood down the side of his face.  Trant stopped for a few seconds, looking down at his body with first suspicion, then wonder.  He laughed as he brushed ice crystals off of himself.  Blood trickled out from where he had been pierced, but like the Templars beneath Orbonne, he seemed to feel no pain.  But like the Templars beneath Orbonne, he could surely be killed.

Trant moved to attack the mage, but Heero kicked his goblin back and intercepted, drawing Trant's attention off with an attack of his own.  They exchanged a few blows before Trant stepped back and spoke curiously.  "You refused this power?"

Well, technically it had never been offered to him as such, merely dangled before him in temptation, or had it been mockery?  Such distinctions were irrelevant at the moment.  "Such power is of no use to me."  Stalling was an option, to allow his companions time to finish off the goblins and join this fight.

"You are a man with no ambitions," Trant declared derisively.

Heero landed a slice to his leg before the words were half out, but Trant merely continued the fight unfazed.  As did Heero.  The words struck no nerve with him.  He'd heard them before at the Academy, from people frustrated that they could not hitch themselves to him to feed their own ambitions.

It was true, insofar as they meant it.  He had no ambitions.  He had goals.  His short term goal was to destroy this corrupt man before him now, before he could do as Dermail had commanded and kill them all.  Judging from the screams and shouts coming from various corners of the fortress, Trant was making good progress, but Heero kept his focus on his goal.  There was nothing to be done to help those others aside from defeating Trant, and thus it would be done.  They had done this before and they could do it again.

Flames whooshed behind him, and goblins screeched in pain.  Duo appeared from somewhere to score a quick cut across Trant's back.  Trant growled in anger as he spun about, swinging his stave in a wide arc.  Duo was already dashing off nimbly to help deal with the last knot of goblins, safely out of range of the weapon, but not the unexpected shockwave that accompanied the attack.  He pitched forward with a curse and saved himself from an ungainly sprawl with a neat tuck and tumble.

The runes on Trant's stave were pulsing as he sneered in satisfaction and slammed his stave into the ground.  Another crater formed, larger than the first, with an impact and a thud that gave even the goblins a moment's pause.  Trant laughed once more and twirled his weapon with a flourish, generating a bit of ominous wind.  "Yes!  I see now.  Each life ended here brings the power of Belias closer to me.  Come, fools.  Die for me and fuel his glory."

With that much force at his command, it seemed a frontal assault was no longer a viable option.  Heero eased back a step to give himself some more room.  From the corner of his eye, he saw Trowa circling to the left.  He did his duty and feinted, attracting Trant's attention without overly committing himself.  It would be up to the others to strike the blows that would count, from behind or from distance.

Trant gave a sudden growl and glared in Quatre's direction, enough warning for Heero to interpose himself quickly.  A tingle of Quatre's power danced across his senses, something clean and pure that cut across the dissonant background twang of the demonic energy filling the little courtyard.  He braced himself as Trant began a charge, but was spared when one of Duo's little bombs exploded at Trant's feet, sending the man stumbling sideways.

Heero started to take advantage of the opening, but checked himself when he felt Quatre let loose his spell.  The holy magic sparkled for a moment around Trant, and then coalesced quickly.  Trant moved at the last second, but the beam of white light still seared half his face and left a raw gouge down his left side.  He roared, and the sound itself was like the force sent out from his stave, pushing them back a step or two.

There was something odd in the air around him.  It took a moment for Heero to sight the dust and leaves swirling in his orbit.  Two of Duo's throwing stars flew straight and true toward their target, but wobbled in their course when they got near and dropped harmlessly to the ground.  Trowa fell from the sky, glaive first, but that vortex somehow deflected the dragoon's dive.  Trant whipped his stave around, knocking the glaive from Trowa's hands as he sent the dragoon flying in a direction dragoons did not like to fly, horizontal across the ground, legs clipping a stone bench as he tumbled to a motionless heap.  Quatre was near, or close enough, and ran to him with a quick shield as Trant smashed the stone bench and sent the debris flying in their direction.

Heero didn't like Trant so close to his friends.  Duo's little throwing stars had faltered in Trant's protective wind.  Trowa's weapon had wavered.  Perhaps a more sturdy mass could make it through.  Heero lowered his shoulder and simply rushed him.  He felt his boots slip upon the ground as he entered range, but it wasn't enough to stop his weight from slamming into the commander's side.  Trant kept to his feet, tangled though they were, and managed to loose Heero's short blade from his hand.  Heero was too close to swing his long blade around to do any damage, same as Trant could no longer make use of his stave, but it could still serve as a weapon.  He bashed its pommel into Trant's burnt face.

He got in three good hits before Trant overcame his natural human instinct to flinch away from the strikes and retaliated with a dodge and a headbutt.  Heero twisted away and it landed on his cheek, thankfully without all the extra impact of Trant's other strikes.  With their violent embrace mostly intact, Heero dragged Trant down to meet a knee with his midsection.  He had to wonder why he was bothering, though.  A good pummeling was likely no more than a light tickle to the possessed knight.

Someone followed his lead and took a flying leap through Trant's protective field.  Duo got his hands around the top end of the stave and tried to wrench it from Trant's hand, but his grip proved too solid for that.  The other end of the stave came up during the struggle and Heero latched on as well, using it to counterbalance himself as he kicked at Trant's knee.  That showed some potential, and he aimed a second kick with more force, but before he could land the blow, he found both his feet off the floor.

Trant hauled the stave around and knocked him into a tree.  Heero lost his hold on both stave and sword, but was quick to recover his blade, just before the stave came back the other way.  Duo saw it coming and released before colliding with the tree himself.  The unexpected shift in weight left Trant lurching to the side, his weapon striking the ground.  Heero hustled back quickly as the ground beneath his feet began to fall into the resulting depression, even as Trant followed up with a quick jab that Heero pushed aside with his sword.

"Incoming!" Wufei shouted.

Duo had opportunity to cast a quick glance in the others' direction.  "Shit, wargs!"

Trant's pleased sneer was a challenge Heero would gladly have accepted, but their friends had need of them.  "Fall back," he murmured as he regrouped with Duo.  He paused just long enough to swoop up his fallen knife while Duo watched his back before they rejoined the others.  Trant seemed perfectly content to watch them go.

Another of Wufei's flame attacks landed with an isolated boom, and in the brief silence that followed, Heero realized he could hear no more screams and shouts coming from elsewhere in the compound.  The creatures had carried out their tasks and were now gathering to finish the job.

Trowa was back on his feet, beating back a warg though clearly not at his best.  They flanked the incoming pack and picked off a couple of them, and diverted the attention of two more.  Though they were still fearsome beasts, they seemed somehow less intimidating in the light of day.  There was plenty of room to work with, and having his friends at his back was even more meaningful to Heero than having two functional arms and two good weapons to go with them.  The five of them worked in concert, each to his own strength, to keep each other safe while chipping away at the enemy forces.

Heero found himself unable to do all that he should.  The others compensated for him automatically as he stumbled back, a harsh jangling sounding down his nerves.

"Heero?" Quatre called out, fearing he had been hurt.

None of them was without at least some injury at this point, but no, this was not a physical sensation at all.  It was the demon's power, amplified, resonating with his own internal pathways in a way that stole his breath and made his skin crawl.  He looked sharply past the wargs.  Another group of goblins had appeared, teeth and claws bloodied.  Fresh off the murders of all the civilian staff of the garrison, most likely.  And behind them, Trant.

"He's casting!" Wufei warned, his attention drawn by Heero's diversion.

"On me," Heero noted levelly, shaking off his distraction and contributing to the fight once more.  It was not the first time he'd been the target of a spell, but this was more than that.

Wufei grunted irritably as he repelled a creature with a hasty line of fire.  He had almost no time at all to mutter a spell so the attack lacked any real power, but it was sufficient for the cause at the moment.  "Can't...!"

"I'll -- oof!"  Quatre fell to a knee after pushing back a beast with his staff.  Trowa covered for him quickly as he got back to his feet.

"Don't bother," Heero answered, moving to assist Wufei.  "He's... channeling something.  Through me."  Yes, that was the strangeness, that novel feeling of foreign power tingling through him from head to toe, as if he were being both attracted to and repelled by the demon's power.  Wufei could probably ponder the matter and explain to him how it was that Trant had tapped into him.  Was it his unfortunate compatibility with the dark power?  Was this what they planned for Sylvia?  "The summoning...?"

The best means of disrupting a spell was to break the mage's focus.  A direct attack usually did the trick, but Trant had proven difficult enough to faze with physical attacks, even without the goblins and wargs between them.  Neither Wufei nor Quatre had the breathing room they needed to cast something significant enough to stop Trant.

One battle at a time, Heero thought to himself, trying to focus on the enemy in front of him.  Another surge of power ran roughshod through him, and he left an opening for claws to snap a few links of his chain mail and draw blood.

"And more," Wufei announced grimly.  "There's some attack in there."

Heero wasn't the expert that Wufei was, but he did have a far-too-intimate taste of the power being worked against them, and reason enough to make sense of it.  Dermail had commanded that all the lives within Yardrow be ended, and not out of mere malice.  There was power in death, power that was needed to complete the summoning.  The attack was centered on and through Heero, but its spread was wide enough to finish them all off at once, and there was really only one way Heero could see to solve this problem.

"Stay back," he bit out, breaking out of their formation and starting a run at Trant.  The wargs seemed momentarily confused by this strategy, but one followed soon enough.  He spun to deal a few quick blows to it before continuing his forward rush.  He could sense he didn't have much time.

"Heero...?" Quatre shouted after him.  He sounded faintly puzzled, but the answer occurred to him soon enough.  "No!"

"Protect yourselves!" Heero shouted back, reaching the first line of goblins around Trant. And Sylvia, he added silently, knowing his friends would keep at their quest even in his absence.  She would never forgive him for not seeing the matter through to the end, but he would trade her forgiveness for her life, easily.  As for Duo... Heero was glad he hadn't started anything with him the other night.  Duo would probably be glad, too.

He had Trant's attention now.  They could both tell that it was too late to stop the spell.  It was going to kill everyone within some radius of him, and he was going to make damn sure that included Trant as well.  Behind him, he felt a powerful magical shell solidifying around his teammates and was relieved.  In front of him, Trant was gesturing the goblins into pressing their attack.  But if they wanted a channeler, they were damn well going to get a bloody channeler.

And bloody he would be.  He fought for every step, because each step he took was one step farther from his friends, one step more safe for them and one step more deadly for his enemies.

The runes on Trant's staff were incandescent, almost blinding.  He caught a brief glance of Trant's face, grotesque from his earlier injuries, twisted in rage, before he made his final lunge.  He couldn't tell if the roaring in his ears came from Trant or from the force of the spell.  The burning definitely came from the spell.  He opened himself to it and pointed the power where he wanted it to go.

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4 comments or Leave a comment
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: October 16th, 2017 12:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh no. No, you wouldn't. O_O Would you? Would you?!?
Excellent fight scene, by the way... those are hard to do, and this one is quite believable and rings with authenticity. A lot going on all at once is hard to bring across.
And now I'll be over here in the corner whimpering pathetically....
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: October 17th, 2017 04:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Don't worry, nothing terrible has happened.  Heero's just accessed one of the game's easter eggs, is all. =D

Golly, this fight was a pain to balance.  Trant needed to be more powerful than the Templars, but less powerful than Tsuberov, and I needed to drag things out long enough for everyone else in the fort to be killed.  It's hard to fight for a long time without inflicting critical injuries!
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: October 18th, 2017 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh noooo... nothing bad at all. Here's a self-destruct button, Heero! Have at!
I hate doing fight scenes, I suck at them. It either ends up feeling all choreographed and fake, or they're boring. I thought you brought all the right elements to the table. Trant feels like a serious threat despite Tsuberov being the obvious 'real' bad guy.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: October 19th, 2017 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's more like, someone handed Heero a live grenade.  No putting that pin back in, so... he's just giving it back. ^^'

I've probably just watched enough anime and played enough videogames to get decent visuals in my head.  Plus I've saddled myself with a five person team here.  I concentrate on one guy for a time, and when I run out of steam on him, I just switch over to some other guy and start over. ^^

Though the mages do complicate things.  It's one thing to be like, yeah he cast a fireball at someone.  But it's kind of another thing to think through it and be like, dude Wufei just set that guy on fire!  That's kind of twisted and cruel, isn't it?  So, what, now we have a guy who's screaming and writhing around on the floor while the air fills with the scent of burning flesh?  wtf?
4 comments or Leave a comment