Fan fiction:The Mage Academy of Gea Kul/Chapter Fifteen
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We rose early on our sixth day in the Dreadlands, a pre-dawn demonic assault pulling us all from our slumber. We triumphed, and after a few sorrowful words spoken over the mangled corpse of a foot soldier, killed by a blow delivered by a demon the size of a hay wain, we moved on. Every group we'd met since the third day had known of Zia, though none knew her name. She was "The Girl Witch" to all, and it was clear that she was universally admired. The power of her magics were said to be beyond belief, and many had witnessed her fearlessness as she hurled spells straight down the throats of greater demons, teleporting out of reach just inches before their rending claws tore her in half. Less was said of the Barbarians who fought with her, but they were always mentioned as well, as fierce warriors and loyal defenders, ever guarding the back of their mistress and maintaining a camp sufficient to allow them comfortable rest after their day's labors.
We Maesters talked amongst ourselves, as we walked, and agreed to use a wide array of ice attacks if and when we met Zia's Crushers. The object was not to kill the Barbarians, but to slow them enough that we might dispatch their Zia before they could interfere. Chilling blasts, coupled with an ice-slicked ground, should work well enough for that. Just how we were to kill Zia remained largely undiscussed, but we all knew one or two especially lethal spells. As with most mage clans, our magics were better suited for attack than defense. We knew Zia could kill us all; we had few defenses against her spells, but we hoped that she could not stop ours either.
My private hope was that she would strike me down first, my death giving my fellow Maesters time to take her down. I deserved death, and at least that way my life might buy survival for my fellow mages and success for our mission.
Noon came without sight of Zia or any larger battles, and we stopped in the hollow of a hill to share out our rations. The dried meat, stale bread, and hard cheese was far from delicious, but it was sustaining, and I was gnawing my way through the last of a hunk of salted beef when the earth shook with a mighty explosion. I was on my feet at once, and had teleported to the top of the hill before I could think. There, less than a mile distant, came a vast wave of demons. Hundreds. Thousands? They were without number, the horde sufficient to blacken the earth. Dancing before them, fighting and retreating at the same time, was Zia.
My heart stopped in my chest and the last bite of cheese fell from my lips. She was glowing. Literally glowing, as the power of her magery shone forth from her very skin, on this overcast day. Of her Barbarian guards I saw no sign, and I could not take my eyes off of Zia as she teleported along the leading edge of the demons, felling dozens with great bursts of electricity and raging waves of flame.
More demons came, hungrily, savagely, insanely. They were blinded by rage, stomping over the bodies of their fallen comrades without hesitation. Zia destroyed them all, dancing back just out of reach, burning, freezing, and otherwise ending their foul lives with effortless precision. By the time I realized that the battle was moving rapidly towards me, and that even Zia could not kill all of those demons before they reached our hillside, my four fellows stood beside me, their wands at the ready.
One spoke, his voice grim. "We must destroy the demons before we can deal with the girl. The chaos of battle is too great." I nodded, not sure who had spoken. It was hard to see anything else, think of anything else, when Zia was once again in my sight.
We moved to join the battle, hurling our spells into the demonic hordes. I had never before fought such numbers, and it forced strange tactics upon me. Precision was not necessary. I simply had to cast the most damaging spells I could muster, as quickly as I could cast them. Everything found a target, and yet for all the death I dealt, the great mass of demons hardly seemed reduced. Beside me Maester Corwyn fell, skewered through the shoulder by a great lance of bone. When another of my Maesters was hamstrung by a spike-covered demon the size of a great cat, I cored it with a stream of lightning, then cried out a retreat.
Seizing Corwyn, I teleported back once, then again, moving us a quarter mile over the rolling hills. To my right the other three Maesters appeared, two of them supporting the third. He could not stand, his left thigh ripped open, and when the man beside him slumped to his knees, they fell together. All of us were exhausted from the battle, and we could do no more than watch as Zia displayed spells that beggared our efforts. She was just one, but she moved so quickly there seemed several of her, darting along the irregular advance of the horde.
She used few flames, since the demons were naturally resistant to fire, but when she sent snaking tendrils of flame forward, the monsters they struck fell and were still. For the most part she used ice, since it chilled and slowed the demons it did not kill outright, but when two huge berserkers stomped to the front of the ranks of the demons, Zia abandoned her hit and run tactics and made a stand.
Fire was her element of choice, but this was no ordinary flame. I was reminded of the elemental power she'd tapped into that first time in classroom, and when she loosed blasts of white-hot flame, the demons were entirely incinerated. Her first volley tore through the advancing ranks, leaving naught but drifting ashes where a dozen demons had slavered. The power of this attack, able to reduce them to nothing, actually slowed the hordes, as those in front paused their advance and fell in behind the two goliaths. If Zia felt fear she did not show it, and as her flames continued to sear forth, growing in intensity, the towering demons toppled, their centipede legs burned out from underneath them. They were not alone, and as the fire spread, gusting out in all directions, I felt the heat, though I stood at least one hundred paces distant.
The demonic horde paused, and was broken, their advance stopped by the wholesale obliteration of any who came within twenty paces of Zia. I could not pick out their leaders, but some demonic intelligence was ruling their behavior, for the creatures changed course, splitting into two groups and surging off to the west and east. Within their ranks were more of the siege beasts, monsters that towered taller than the largest buildings in Gea Kul, and as I watched them stomp away, their speed tremendous, the ground shaking beneath them, I wondered how humanity could ever hope to prevail against such beasts.
I was pulled from my thoughts by a voice from my side. It was Corwyn, his voice weak, his face white from blood loss. "We are doomed." he said, and though I did not know if he referred to Zia or the demons, I found myself in agreement. I nodded, and was still nodding when a familiar feminine voice spoke from behind me.
"Doomed indeed. Doomed from the moment you set foot in the Dreadlands."
I turned, lightning already crackling along my fingers and through my wand, but it was too late. Zia had teleported into our midst, and she was upon us before any could react. Corwyn went first, a fountain of ice streaming into his face and snapping his spine. The spray of ice splashed across my chest as well, and I was hurled backwards. Falling, I saw only a glimpse of Zia's back, as she waved her hand and sent a scorching flame at my other two comrades, the heat of it powerful enough to rip the robes from their bodies before their skin began to blacken. I saw only that before I struck the hard earth, my arm crunching between my chest and a stone. Before that pain could fill me I heard a loud crack inside my skull, like a coconut had been dropped to a marble floor, and I knew no more.
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