The Sight – seeing over distance
The Sight – employing visions
Mind Reading and Speaking
Retrieval of objects from afar, both from the physical plane and the ether
Transport of Mind and Body across Space (foundation)
Transport of Mind and Body across Time (mastery)
The Shield of Defence
~ The Steps of the Magical Condition
It gave him pleasure after all, taking on the Golden.
After long practising his art on mindless slaves, it felt unaccountably good to encounter magic of equal purpose.
They fought hard, but the element of surprise was wholly his. Even as they repulsed his soltakin countless times, they could not kill them. No sorcery was able to do that, no matter how strong, for his soltakin were sorcery.
A sorcery immune to sorcery; how ironic and what an army.
Valleur died. Buildings burned and crumbled.
Screams echoed into the atmosphere.
Margus stalked the great Palace, eyes gleaming.
Where had Dantian got to?
The Gatherers’ Circle was bedlam.
Sacred ogives lit and dimmed as Immortals came and went. The rotating dais was overworked as one after another they jostled for the opportunity to voice an opinion.
Taranis was grim as he made his way there, his heart heavy and angry. “Prepare for battle!”
Declan of the Siric shouted, “We cannot! Taranis, they outnumber us!”
“Never stopped us before,” Rilt of the Centuar said. “And there are Valleur numbers to advantage a battle.”
Taranis thumped the dais. “We are going. Rayne and Vannis will do it alone otherwise.”
“Really?” Llettynn drawled.
“Siric, I do not have time for suspicions right now.” Taranis thumped the dais again. “Question - do we know who this Darak Or is?”
Bartholamu of the Siric said, “We believe his name is Margus.”
“Kras, communicate that to Phet. Any idea where he is from?”
“Definitely from beyond the Rift,” Bartholamu replied. “An unknown.”
“Next pertinent question - do we know how to kill soltakin?” Taranis leaned on the dais. A few hours ago he paid homage to renewal; now he faced this. The contraction was exhausting.
“Soltakin are an extremely unstable form of sorcery,” Llettynn spoke up, “and therefore seldom utilized. Properly controlled, they are deadly to mortal and immortal. Extremely difficult to counter; sorcery is ineffective. Theoretically, the only certain way of negating them is by returning the souls to the bodies, and then killing those bodies. I wager they no longer exist.” He paused. “We dare not enter the battlefield, Taranis. Not that one.”
Taranis was wordless.
“What of host bodies?” It was Gren.
“Host bodies have to be soulless,” Llettynn said. “It will take more time than we now have.” He walked up to his leader. “There is a way, but it is a battlefield we need prepare on Valaris. It is too late to stop the slaughter at the Rift.”
Belun stomped his hooves. “The darklings, our darklings, those idiots who follow Infinity like dogs after an uncaring mistress - they have no souls.”
Llettynn colourless eyes gleamed in calculation, but he did not release Taranis from his gaze.
“And, if we could transfer the souls of the soltakin into darkling bodies, we could rid ourselves of two scourges at one time,” Belun added.
“Well done, Belun,” Taranis said and swirled his tongue in his mouth. “Llettynn?”
“It will not be easy, Taranis. The Siric must put heads together to produce something that cannot rebound.” As expressionless as Llettynn appeared, there was nonetheless a faint aura of challenge to him. “If we can lure the darklings into the same vicinity as the soltakin.”
“Oh, she’ll bring them now,” Glint muttered. “Now that her precious Arcana are no more, now that she realises she’s been duped by the illusion of Chaos.”
“As we were,” Gren murmured.
“Right, but she will take it as a personal affront, the arrogant witch. She’ll be uncertain of this Darak Or, but her vengeance isn’t done simply because the nature of her game has now changed,” Glint mused. “Uh-uh, oh no. She will want to finish it this time, and thus she’ll call her darklings in to find confidence and show mastery, but not only over us. She needs be powerful now with a Darak Or entering the field of play.”
“Good luck to her,” Belun muttered. “I hope they destroy each other.”
“And maybe they join forces,” Bartholamu said.
Taranis and Llettynn were still locked in a battle of wills. Then Taranis heaved a sigh that seemed to tear his heart from his body. He closed his eyes briefly to avoid the sympathy he saw in the Siric’s. Sympathy from Llettynn could be hard to bear.
“Siric, find the way to meld body and soul. Leave the where and when to us. Agreed?”
Llettynn still stared. “Will you fight at the Rift without the Siric?”
“Why?” Llettynn whispered.
Taranis smiled, a complicated gesture. “The connection. He would do it for me.”
“How can you know that?”
Taranis thumped his chest. “Find the solution to the soltakin, my friend.”
Llettynn bowed. The Siric, as one group, left the Dome.
Taranis leaned on his arms. “Funl, send your Eagles out. Arrange a meeting with the dara-witch.” The Eagles flew out through their ogive without delay. “Kras, you and your Falcons spread the word to all worlds. They deserve advance warning in the event we fail.” The Falcons left immediately. “Glint. I need the Sagorin to formulate an evacuation strategy for Valaris.”
“It will be done.” The Sagorin left as well, except Glint. He stepped into the Gatherers’ Circle. “You’re sending us away. A few minutes ago you called us to battle. Taranis, what are your intentions?”
“Make it safe for this realm, Glint. Please.”
The Sagorin gazed at his leader in much the way Llettynn had earlier, and then he nodded. His ogive chimed seconds later.
Taranis, hands white on the console, a death grip, continued, “We need the Sylmer in the oceans of Valaris. Go to your homeworld and relearn the skills of the deep, and put together a unit to accompany you when I call. Assure your unit there is little chance of harm befalling them, for soltakin are too ethereal to penetrate water.”
The three Sylmer nodded without speaking, bereft without Saska to be their voice. They left.
Watching them go, Taranis wondered if he made the best decision in leaving Saska behind. She was the only choice to remain, a link between the people of Valaris and the Dome, with Phet the communicator, for she was best suited to relationships. Those were bound to become frantic and uneasy now.
Valarians would swiftly wake to a new and terrible reality. He shook his head; he simply could not worry about it now.
He glanced around the near deserted Circle. It sounded hollow and lonely without activity. For the first time in a while he actually looked at the Dome.
It was a place of beauty, our sacred site, he mused. We, too, have infused it with our essence.
How lovely the soaring white columns, the pristine snowy floor, the art overhead. He craned his neck up, noticing the darkling scenes. He knew, deep in his heart, what they were about to experience would be worse than that.
“My lord?” Belun interrupted his reverie.
“Ah, Belun, I haven’t forgotten the Centuar.”
Belun waited, but Taranis said nothing further. “You’re worried about Rayne,” Belun prompted.
“He could track Infinity all this time? He could see what Vannis was doing? He intends to fight? Yes, I am worried.”
“It is time to trust him. Seems Valaris will need that kind of power.”
Taranis frowned. “Is he ready, Belun? Will he survive this Margus at the Rift.? Can he control Vannis in the heat of battle?”
“He will either rise or fall. We must look to what we can do right now.”
A nod. Then, “You will accompany me.”
“To fight?” The Centuar’s eyes glowed with anticipation. His companions arrayed behind him, prepared to enter the field.
“Yes,” Taranis said, drawing his sword.
Hooves stamped metallically.
The Gatherers’ Circle was empty seconds later.
It winked out.