The Awakening of Dark Madness

Episode 45

The walls of Alhama’at’s castle atop the floating network of isles that was Altea shook with the roar of the great fusion dragon below. Indeed he had expected this, though not foreseen it. The future had become too muddled to foresee as of late, largely due to his own handiwork, admittedly. Looking into the past, the aged magician could not spy a similar moment in the cycle of history.

This was a first. A result of his meddling in the chronology perhaps? It was a complication he would have rather not come to pass. With Lapis’ manipulation, the ire of this world’s champions had been turned against him and Altea. Again the ancient walls of Altea’s structures shook and Alhama’at could sense the ancient magic barriers that guarded the nation’s land masses beginning to fail.

Curiously, Alhama’at found his thoughts turning back towards the old days. 

Ever since he had learned of the truth, the world around him seemed...false. A non-world. He had not thought of the days before his revelation in many, many years. And yet now, as the final struggle for salvation began, he was curiously pensive. What would they think? He pondered. All at once, Viola burst into his chambers quite unceremoniously, a wild and exhausted look on her face. “Lord Alhama’at!” 

She exclaimed. “My deepest apologies. I could not stop Ryula’s escape. She has fused with a human.” The treacherous dragonoid hung her head is disgrace. “Amusing, don’t you think?” Alhama’at spoke and the weight of his words pierced all who heard them. “My lord?” Viola questioned.

“Viola, your power, now.” Alhama’at did not answer, but instead commanded, holding out a gaunt hand, skin tightly clinging to the bones. Viola obliged, eagerly taking his hand. The two beings aligned their thoughts, and in a single violet flash, the two ceased to be. And a monster was born again. -------------------------------------------

“Millium!” Lumia cried out for her nephew as she looked up at the enormous creature that he and the girl they’d rescued had become. She and Nyarlathotep were completely dumbfounded. A second ago Millium was bleeding out and now there was this...creature. This dragon. “Millium!” Lumia called out again. “Are you in there?” 

At this the great beast turned its gaze down to Lumia and Nyarlathotep, giving them a knowing nod and a wink. “Thank goodness.” Lumia sighed. “You dote on him just like you did with your brother. Hehehe, it’s no lie” Nyarlathotep sidled up to Lumia, teasing her. “You don’t understand.” Lumia smiled nervously. 

“Do you have any idea what Pandora would do to me if something happened to him?” The two shared an exhausted smile before they were interrupted by the sudden shadow that blotted out the sky. The remaining Alteans had retreated, and a bellowing roar echoed in the distance. “This is bad.” Nyarlathotep stated, looking unusually worried. “What was that?” Lumia asked.

“Can’t you feel it? That lump in your stomach? It’s him. He’s moving.”The roar howled across the skies again, only it was plain that it was now much closer. It took Lumia a moment to understand. This feeling, it was unlike anything else she had ever felt. There was an unimaginable pressure, an invisible weight that pressed on her body, choked the air from her lungs. 

So concentrated was the magic it was almost dizzying. Her head swam and she tumbled to keep her balance for a moment before centering herself again. If she concentrated she could shake off the sensation. If she didn’t know any better, she’d think this a dream. But it wasn’t. It was Alhama’at. 

And he was headed right for them. With a mighty roar the fused Millium dragon loosed a powerful magic blast of light from its maw at the great ebon dragon that was quickly approaching from the dark skies. However the obsidian fusion was prepared. It easily swatted the blast aside, forcing the ball of light careen harmlessly off into the sky, eventually fading from sight.

The Alhama’at dragon let out a terrifying roar and a hail of dark shafts of light similar to Viola’s own spear began to rain from the black skies.

“Millium!” Lumia and Nyarlathotep called out. Lumia readied an attack, twirling her fire and light magics together and readied the magical bolt to be loosed on Alhama’at.

I stand in the eternal light of the spirits. You, who gather darkness, shall go no further. Come forth, divine purification! All at once the darkness that covered the skies began to fade as twinkling drops of starlight started to pour down. The shimmering drops of starlight felt soothing on Lumia’s skin, and she felt her mind begin to clear, Alhama’at’s strange influence counteracted.

“Hehehe, reinforcements.” Nyarlathotep commented, pointing Lumia’s attention in the direction of a small group of people who were moving towards them, the one at the head of the group was holding up her great staff that shone with the same color as the starlight that was raining from the sky. “Sorry, we’re a little late.” Almerius grinned confidently.

She, the remaining six sages, Kaguya, and Charlotte hurried quickly to aid Lumia and Nyarlathotep, who wasted no time in appraising them of the situation. “That thing is the one that killed Fiethsing?” Almerius asked in disbelief. “There’s no mistaking it.” Lumia answered. “Something’s different though.” Kaguya added. “He wasn’t a dragon before.”

“Looks like he’s got the same trick up his sleeve that we did.” Nyarlathotep surmised. “That Lapis kid told us if we rescued the girl we’d have the only weapon to beat Alhama’at. Never told us he had the same weapon, hehehe.” “Can Millium win?” Zero asked, somewhat dumbfounded by her pupil's new form.

“We’ve got to try.” Almerius answered quickly. “We don’t know when we’ll get another chance like this. We don’t even know if this fusion can work twice.” “The young boy needs to hit him.” Grusbalesta observed. “Can’t you feel it? I’ve seen...fusion before so I understand the power. Though admittedly it was a much different method that this.” Grusbalesta motioned to the fusion dragon. 

“At any rate, I can sense the power from both of these creatures. That dark one is stronger, without a doubt. But Millium is focusing all of his energy on stopping them, stopping the enemy fusion. That last attack of his. It wasn’t meant to kill Alhama’at.” Grusbalesta adjusted his glasses. “It was meant to break apart the fusion.” “What happens after that?” Charlotte asked.

“We throw everything we can at Alhama’at and hope its enough.” Milest answered. “Alright, everyone you know the deal!” Almerius shouted. “Keep our dragon alive, and get his attack to hit its mark. We still have a chance if we work together. For Fiethsing!” “For Fiethsing!” Everyone shouted in chorus. As if in its own answer, the Millium dragon roared and spread its great wings, soaring into the sky. 

From high above Millium and Ryula looked down at the others. Looks like they’re going to help us. Millium thought. We’re going to need it. Ryula’s thoughts answered. We’ll need to focus every bit of power this form has to split them up. I don’t understand...I thought you were supposed to be the weapon, what exactly is this? Millium asked. This is our power. The power of the priestesses. 

Fusion. By uniting our hearts and bodies, we become something greater than the two of us. When Viola attacked, we both wanted to protect each other, that was enough for me to connect us with this power. That’s amazing! Stay focused! Ryula instructed. We need to focus on Viola and Alhama’at or else we’ll fall apart. Alright, I got it. I just hope we can hit him.

The Alhama’at dragon flapped it’s great wings in anger and the winds surged, ripping trees from the very earth. The dark dragon swooped down from above to strike Millium as the alabaster drake prepared another magical attack. “We need to distance them!” Moojdart shouted to the others.

“I’m on it!” Milest answered. “This is for what those monsters did to me. Release!” With a word Milest’s ghostly body suddenly crackled with a powerful crimson energy and his form changed , assuming the shape of a six armed armored warrior. “Oooh~ Milly, you didn’t tell us you could use mana too!” Moojdart said. “Those Alteans tried to steal my secrets, so I stole a few of theirs. And don’t call me Milly!” 

Milest clasped his six hands together into three pairs of mudra. In an instant, a massive ghostly fireball burst into existence between Millium and Alhama’at, only to explode in an immense wave of flame a second later. The intense magical fire collided with Alhama’at, and while it did not seem to harm the creature, the force of the spell did succeed in pushing the dragon back for a moment.

“Hehehe, thanks for the opening.” Nyarlathotep snickered and began to chant something strange and otherworldly. “mglw'nafh fhthagn-ngah cf'ayak 'vulgtmm vugtlag'n!” The words were unrecognizable to the others, but their effects were quickly understood.

tears in the sky ripped themselves open around Alhama’at and squirming masses of tentacles burst forward, grabbing at the ebony dragon’s limbs to hold it in place. “Ngh. This isn’t going to hold for very long, it’s no lie” Nyarlathtotep said, as she strained herself to maintain the spell. Suddenly she felt the small hand of Charlotte on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry, I can help!” She proclaimed confidently. The Attoractian called upon the power of the sacred spirit and conjured water constructs that shaped themselves into small drakes. The constructs quickly flew to Alhama’at and reshaped into great liquid chains, to further fetter the malefic beast. However, Alhama’at quickly stopped struggling. “Die.”

The dragon impossibly spoke without word or sound, and the word struck all nearby as sharply as any sword. Some fell to their knees, while others struggled to stay up. Charlotte in particular collapsed onto the ground, her spell fading as well. “Charlotte!” Nyarlathotep caught the girl just before she would have hit the ground. The bindings holding the dark dragon had come loose and faded, the beast was free again. 

Sparking ebony motes appeared in the sky and erupted in booming thunder as streaks of black lightning shot down towards Millium. “The Kimono, Lady Kaguya.” Grusbalesta instructed. “It can block any attack up to twelve times before breaking. Cover Millium. We’ll get those two to safety.” Grusbalesta motioned to Nyalathotep, still holding Charlotte.

“Understood.” Kaguya responded. With a snap of her fingers she summoned a long flowing garment that glowed with a magical brilliance. One of the fabled treasury items, the Water Kimono of Twelve Parts. “ careful, Kaguya.” Zero added. “Of course.” She replied coolly, and flew up into the air with the kimono on. “Hang on, Millium.”

As bolts of lightning thundered down, Kaguya intercepted them, as the bolts struck the Kimono wrapped around her, they harmlessly dispersed. “One...two...” Kaguya carefully counted each time she blocked one of the attacks. “Seven...eight...” “Eleven...twelve!” Kaguya’s magical garment absorbed its last black lightning strike and burst into tatters. “Come on, Millium, hurry up.”

“The kimono was destroyed.” Moojdart called to the others as Kaguya came flying back down. Above, the Millium dragon continued to charge its attack while doing its best to avoid Alhama’at’s own attacks. “We just need...a little more time.” Kaguya said. “We’ll take over, Kaguya.” Almerius assured. “It’s why we were brought out of our sleep after all. Milest, Moojdart, let’s try to give Millium some space!” 

The three moved to the front lines to support Millium. Kaguya and the others watched on for a moment, as various brilliant bursts of magic lit up the sky. Though the three sages were giving it their all, it wasn’t enough to give Millium enough time to focus on charging his attack, and there was still the problem of getting Alhama’at to hold still.

“Grusbalesta, Zero, Lumia. I’m going to give Millium the space he needs. When the time comes, you three strike Alhama’at with him as hard as you can.” Kaguya said rather suddenly. “How exactly are you planning on doing that, Lady Kaguya?” Grusbalesta asked. “The Door of Time.” “But Lady Kaguya, that’s!” Grusbalesta’s protests were ignored, or rather, they had stopped completely. 

Everything had. Kaguya had released the spell before anyone else could. It was a powerful chant she had memorized long ago in her previous life. A forbidden technique that put immense strain on the user’s body and created a temporary temporal imbalance, slowing the flow of time for all except the user for a brief moment. 

A powerful weapon to be sure, But the imbalances it created in time were dangerous. She was only going to be able to use this technique once.

Soaring into the air again clapped her hands together and summoned forth every treasury item she could, surrounding the Alhama’at dragon in a 360 degree ring.

“Die, monster.” She spat, and focused every bit of magic she could muster through the treasury items. The Door of Time wouldn’t last much longer, and she needed every bit of time it was going to afford her to charge her attack. Kaguya felt the weight of her spells tearing at her body as she pushed beyond her normal limits. “For auntie...” She repeated over and over.

The flow of time snapped back to normal just as a massive ray of magic burst forth in a ring around the enormous dark dragon. “Millium! Now!” Lumia screamed as she, Zero and Grusbalesta leaped to strike in tandem with the saintly dragon. Needing no further instruction Millium let out a furious howl and a glimmering white bolt lanced forth from the dragon’s maw.

For a moment the world seemed auspisciously quiet as the attack connected with its target. A blinding flash erupted as the form of the Alhama’at dragon faded. The Millium dragon too, seemed unable to maintain its form any longer as it landed on the ground just in time to split back into an exhausted Millium and Ryula. 

Viola  seemed to have been disabled in the resulting diffusion, as she laid motionless on the ground. Alhama’at however still stood. His usual robes had been torn to ribbons in the explosion, revealing a set of flexible armor woven tightly around his imposing form. His usual stiff demeanor was gone, replaced by a furious look.

“You damn fools.” He said, anger still very clear in his booming voice. “You’ve fractured time even further now.” “Give it up, Alhama’at!” Almerius called. “You’re outnumbered.”

“Raaahhh!” Zero wasn’t interested in waiting for any sort of surrender as she sped towards Alhama’at, igniting her magic saber. 

Alhama’at raised a hand and a streak of white lighting crackled and burst forth from it to strike Zero. Prepared for the attack, Zero managed to parry, slicing the bolt in half with her saber. What she was not ready for was Alhama’at’s own speed. He moved at an impercievable pace, landing a powerful punch into her stomach and taking a few steps back. Zero, clutching the affected area, fell to her knees.

“Master Zero!” Millium shouted, still somewhat weak and looking after Ryula. “Why...why did you kill her?” Zero demanded through gasps of air, looking up at the master of Altea. “Ah, the elf? That was indeed regrettable. She was not my intended target. I wanted to remove the girl with the power to damage time ,but she stood in my way.” “You” Kaguya reasoned.

“Yes. But now you’ve damaged time again, and made things even more difficult.” The wicked furious expression on Alhama’at’s face only grew worse as he looked to Kaguya. “What do you want?” Lumia asked. “If you wanted to conquer us, you could’ve done so easily. Why capture me, why all of this?” “I do not want to rule you, I want to help you.” 

Alhama’at said to the surprise of the others. “Time, destiny. They are words upon a page. We move according to the words. If we are not the ones writing our own words, are we truly living? I want to free us from those pages. But the connection must remain intact until I find a way. You seek to restore the planets destroyed by my brood Lapis, and in doing so will sever the connection of time by rewinding it.”

“If you...ngh, if you wanted to help us. Why didn’t you try to talk?” Said Millium. “I have. Many times. This is only my latest attempt. You have not listened before, so you must be removed.” Alhama’at took a step towards Zero, a long fingered hand outstretched. 

The others moved to help her, but another powerful bolt of white lightning erupted from Alhama’at’s hand and split into a branches to strike each of them, keeping them at a distance. “You’re...ngh...crazy.” Zero gasped. “I am the end of this false reality.” Alhama’at grasped Zero’s head and pulled her up such that her eyes met his. 

“Fear not. The wheel will turn, and we will meet again.” Alhama’at took a deep breath as he again prepared to speak the impossible word that would spell the end of Zero’s life. This is it. She thought. This is how I finally dieI’ll finally...At least I’ll be with her again.That was strange. The thought seemed unpleasant to her. She didn’t want to die just yet. 

Kaguya still needed her, Millium still needed her. Her friends, her world. Everything was still here. She couldn’t afford to die yet. As if by instinctual reflex she pulled herself up such that her mouth could reach Alhama’at’s hand. Her mind blank, she bit down hard, a newly grown pair of fangs plunging deep into his aged flesh. There was no blood, his aged body seemed to have run dry of that substance long ago.

“Agh!” Alhama’at cried and his words resonated within all who heard it. Their stomachs churned at the sudden weight and unevenness of his voice. Alhama’at released Zero and clutched his hand. “You...I remember you now. The castle...” Zero had no idea what the monster was talking about. She was not in the mood for listening any longer. 

The creature standing in front of her clutching its hand wasn’t a man. It was a monster. And Zero knew of only one way to deal with monsters. Alhama’at sped forward at blinding speed to attack Zero, but suddenly found himself confronted on all sides by the other Sages, as well as Lumia. 

Growing desperate, he raised his hand to cast another bolt of lightning but found his body suddenly incredibly difficult to move. Gravity magic, he reasoned. Zero, who’s eyes had turned a curiously black color, had cast it. Under normal circumstances he’d be able to break free without issue, but that bite did something, awoke some ancient curse he’d long forgotten about. He was growing weak.

“Zero, go!” Almerius cried. Zero lunged forward, igniting her saber again, and thrust the magical blade through Alhama’at’s stomach. Alhama’at’s body held still for a moment. There was no cry of pain, no air escaped his body. As his final act he mustered the soundless words that pierced Zero’s mind. We will meet again.” With this final words, Alhama’at’s tired, ancient body fell to the earth. 

Dead. The group took a moment to assess the situation and themselves, making sure everyone was alright. Ryula was still unconscious, but breathing, it seemed. Viola too seemed to have survived, having disappeared somewhere during the confrontation. As the group gathered together, expressing congratulations and tired embraces, Zero poked at her teeth with a finger. 

She had sworn they were longer a moment ago. Oh well, a worry for another day. She set it aside as she went to join the others. However, their celebration was quickly interrupted by an unpleasant and unfamiliar voice. “I’ve been waiting for this.” The voice of Lapis called from the direction of Alhama’at’s body.

“Goodnight, father. Take comfort knowing that your death shall fuel my glorious ascent.” Lapis raised his hand over Alhama’at and quickly began to absorb his power through some strange incantation. “Lord Alhama’at!” Rachel shrieked, arriving only moments after Lapis. But she was too late, in a moment, Lapis had absorbed the Altean’s power and made his knowledge his own.

“You’re too late Rachel. Your master is dead...and so are you. Come, Yggdrasil.” In response to Lapis’ words, great twisted rotting roots ripped through the earth as a horrid mass of bark and leaves began to erupt from the ground. One of the many gnashing vines wrapped itself around Rachel, dragging her, screaming, into the mass of the oozing tree.

“’at” Rachel managed as the roots squeezed the last breath from her body.

Buffeted by the force of this corrupted Yggdrasil emerging from the ground and exhausted from their previous battle, Millium and the others found themselves unable to interfere as Lapis claimed Alhama’at’s power and summoned Yggdrasil. “At last...” Lapis began to laugh. “It’s time for the real party to begin.”

“No!” Another voice cried, and everyone turned to see Alice had arrived, freed from Alhama’at’s possesion, along with Pricia and Faria. “Ah, the Earth survivor. Excellent. You will be the first to fall to my Excalibur.” With a snap of Lapis’ fingers the dark blade appeared, floating and moving about like a living creature. It pointed its edge at Alice, and sped forward to thrust through her.

-To be continued in “Echoes of the New World”. -Lore written by Rajadeem the Seer, Last of His Order