Emperor Ruaikn cut down the last of Zi-mar’s golems. The etchings on his arm glowed. General Naeer was calling him. He teleported and appeared next to general Naeer.
“She won’t make it.” General Naeer said.
“Ti-yaan, no!” Ruaikn said. Why couldn’t you wait Ti-yaan.
Ti-yaan was firmly in Zi-mar’s grip.
Ruaikn vanished again. He reappeared above Ti-yaan and reached for her.
Zi-mar yanked his hand down, and Ti-yaan was pulled down with it. She plummeted towards the earth like a boulder falling from the heavens.
There had been too many deaths already, his comrades, his closest friends, his family. Ruaikn roared and shot after her. Ti-yaan tried to reach for his hand when the ground rushed up to meet her, literally. A big chunk of land had separated from the whole and had risen up. Zi-mar was playing with them.
“Ti-yaan please, draw the souls.” Ruaikn shouted!
Ti-yaan just smiled, that beautiful smile of hers, that said, “Everything is going to be just—” and then it faded; she smashed against the elevated earth causing a depression where she had hit. Her eyes widened, her breathing stopped, her body stilled. Ruaikn reached her a fraction too late. He could hear Zi-mar cackling.
Ruaikn gathered her in his arms. He conjured a protective shield around himself. “Ti-yaan?” he pleaded.
Ruaikn waited. Ti-yaan gasped for air, grabbing onto Ruaikn. Relief flooded through him. “You hold on. Kaypii is close by.” He picked her up and was about to teleport when Ti-yaan stopped him.
“I can’t be fixed, not here.” She lifted her shaking hand, touched his cheek. It stopped shaking. “Don’t do that, you need all the life you can get.” Ti-yaan said, worried.
“Is that what you would do?” Ruaikn asked, squeezing her hand. She was barely clinging on to her own soul.
The blue flecks in her ruby red eyes darkened for a moment. “I would tear them apart. Every one of them.” And he knew, by everyone she meant everyone. Her enemies and his allies. “You were always better than me.” Her voice was weak.
Ruaikn dropped the shield surrounding them. Once again aware of the battle raging on below.
“They need you,” Ti-yaan said.
Ruaikn looked down. His general was holding off Zi-mar, but he needed help desperately.
“I have lost so much, Ti-yaan. Either you live with me, or I die with you.”
She gave a hint of a nod, and they disappeared and reappeared down below, a safe distance away from the battle. Ti-yaan floated in the air, suspended, supine. Her eyes closed, heart beat faint. “I’ll be back soon.” He paused before adding, “One way or another.” He brought his hand to his chest, his fingers curled in progressive curves. “Shadow Riot. Mirror Equal.”
His shadow split. The second shadowy figure rose from the ground and took shape of a human. A dark black shape. Slowly, it coalesced into an exact replica of Ruaikn.
“Haven Rite. Guardian Angel,” Ruaikn said.
“Haven Rite. Guardian Angel,” the shadow-Ruaikn repeated in a thicker, clearer voice. A lightning bolt struck shadow-Ruaikn, flooding its very being. It drew its sword, tip against the ground-electric lines lightly crackling through its body and the sword-placing its hands on the hilt, the shadow-Ruaikn watched for the enemies.
Ruaikn teleported next to General Naeer, in the thick of battle. “Slight change of plans, General. We are going all in.”
“That snake is as good as dead. There is nothing you can do for her,” Zi-mar said in his raspy voice.
Ruaikn ignored him. General Naeer, expending his lives at an alarming rate, was keeping Zi-mar busy while Ruaikn drew the symbols in the air. He drew an infinity, divided it in the middle, used the division as a base to draw two triangles enclosing the infinity and two circles enclosing the triangles. He pressed on the symbol.
“Shadow Riot. Finite Mirror Equals.” His shadow split in eight more shadows and stood surrounding him and Zi-mar. Then every soldier he had, who was fighting for him against Zi-mar’s golems, their shadows split as well resulting in their mirror images.
“Have you learned nothing? You can’t hold me forever. You simply do not have enough lives compared to the souls I have,” Zi-mar growled.
And only one vessel to hold them all, Ruaikn thought. “Seven Hells Riot. Demons debt,” he said. Except the infinity, symbols glowed.
“Seven Hells Riot. Demons Debt.” Shadow soldiers shouted the enchant. Confirming the spell. They were given an order. They drew their swords and thrust it into their opponent’s heart. The life, the soul and the vessel parted their ways. The bodies dropped dead.
Zi-mar laughed like a maniac. He imprisoned the new batch of souls Ruaikn had created for him.“You have my gratitude for that.”
“Sir. What are you doing?” Naeer asked.
Every ritual that Ruaikn performed was a life he couldn’t restore, Each shadow that Ruaikn created required one life and he had created them by millions. After killing Zi-mar’s minions he had supplemented Zi-mar with their souls. Unlike Zi-mar, Ruaikn couldn’t capture the lives of his enemies. His rituals didn’t work that way. Either Ruaikn had to ask them or they volunteered themselves to be consumed. On the other hand Zi-mar could just take the souls of the dead.
“Haven Rite. Almighty’s gift,” Ruaikn said. Triangle and circles burned, infinity didn’t.
“Haven Rite. Almighty’s gift,” the shadow-soldiers repeated. Triangles appearing over men, circles on women. In moments, the injuries were healed. It was a healing ritual that healed the castors allies.
“Sir. EC Ten,” Naeer yelled. He had only ten lives left.
“Haven Rite. Unholy Resurrection,” Ruaikn hurried.
“Haven Rite. Unholy Resurrection,” the shadow soldiers echoed. This time they moved towards the dead, allies and enemies. Triangles and circles appearing over them. The shadow soldiers imbued the life into the The dead. Alive once again they, rose.
“Rite of the Tyson. Living cremation.” Ruaikn said.
No reiteration this time. Symbols were unaffected. Ruaikn looked at one of the resurrected being. He could feel two lives there, one its own and the another that Ruaikn had imbued it with. Upon death, Unlike the soul, the life force stuck around up until the vessel wasted away and then latched onto anything alive they could find unless-it was sealed with a Supernatural like Ruaikn, by an agreement made before the death of the volunteer. In that case after the death, the life simply abandoned its previous vessel and attached itself with the Supernatural. After Ruaikn resurrected the dead minions, their life force attempted to reattach themselves to their vessels to drive the foreign life force away. Ruaikn grabbed both the lives and incinerated them.
“ECee Three,” yelled Naeer, landing a blow on Zi-mar.
“General! Withdraw!” Ruaikn shouted. Naeer jumped back without a moments delay.
“Seven Hells Riot. Deadweight Hold,” Ruaikn said, louder. This time. Infinity glowed.
“Seven Hells Riot. Deadweight Hold,” only shadow-Ruaikns repeated. The ones who were encircling Zi-mar. Moving into a sideways fighting stance, one hand in the front, palm facing the enemy and the other facing the opposite direction. Zi-mar grunted, invisible force held him down.
“You noticed?” Ruaikn asked.
“Aye, sir. I hope it works,” Naeer said.
When Ruaikn incinerated the resurrected life, two souls leaked out of Zi-mar, those souls had belonged to the life forces Ruaikn had extinguished, the bond between a soul and a life was still the strongest. One couldn’t exist without the other.. Each time a soul escaped from Zi-mar, it left him vulnerable for the split moment. Even Zi-mar couldn’t defy the laws of nature.
“Move out of the circle.” Ruaikn said.
General Naeer moved further back.
Zi-mar drew on his souls. He grew in size. He transformed into a grotesque monster, the blue in his red eyes had completely taken over.
“Rite of the Mortal. Borrowed Strength.” Ruaikn drew on his lives, all of them. Which left Ruaikn with only one life, his own.
“Rite of the Mortal. Borrowed Strength.” The symbols glowed, save infinity. His soldiers and shadow soldiers repeated, effectively loaning their strength to Ruaikn.
Ruaikn moved forward, cracking the earth with every step. “Seven hells Riot. Deadweight hold.” he moved into a sideways stance like his shadows. Strengthening the hold on Zi-mar.
Zi-mar bellowed with fury. “You. Are. Mine.” He took a step forward, pulling one of Ruaikn’s shadow with him. Another step. A second shadow slid.
“You can go burn yourself!” Ruaikn said calmly. “Warriors Rite. Lead and Follow.” His voice rumbled. Triangles and circles lit up.
“Warriors Rite. Lead and Follow.” The shadow soldiers and the soldiers rearranged themselves around the resurrected. Additional soldiers stayed in their places, waiting for the next ritual.
“Rite of the Tysons. Holy incineration.”
“Rite of the Tysons. Holy incineration.” Ruaikn’s soldiers thundered.
Zi-mar cried out taking another step.
The shadow-soldiers closest to Ruaikn incinerated the resurrected beings they were standing next to. The shadow-soldiers behind them followed an instant after and the chain continued, it looked like a firecracker chainsaw had caught fire. With each life Ruaikn burned through the shadow-soldiers, a soul escaped Zi-mar’s hold, leaving an opening. Zi-mar couldn’t trap the souls whose bond with this reality had come to an end. The continued incineration ensured Zi-mar’s vulnerable state.
“Wrath of Gods. The Sunstrike.” All of the symbols caught fire.
Ruaikn and shadow Ruaikns, General Naeer, the soldiers and all of their shadows repeated the words in a deafeningly loud boom. Zi-mar was bombarded with a sunstrike after sunstrike for each escaping soul. He fought. He resisted. He screamed and he reached his limit. He burned. He bellowed in frustration in agony. One of Ruaikn’s shadow crumpled. Zi-mar took a step towards Ruaikn. Another shadow-Ruaikn broke. The sunstrikes kept falling, Ruaikn’s shadows kept collapsing, and Zi-mar kept edging closer. Ruaikn was now in the range of those sunstrikes. He began to burn as well. He couldn’t absorb the heat, not enough lives. He wasn’t going to last long, and then suddenly he stopped burning. He felt a new presence, a belated resistance. He glanced to his side. Ti-yaan stood there, her both hands facing towards him, shielding Ruaikn. Ruaikn’s first shadow next to her. She was straining with effort. She was leaking souls too.
Ruaikn recalled his first shadow. The shadow appeared in a bolt of lightning. It leaped at Zi-mar, slashing at him faster than eyes could follow.
And then it stopped. It fizzled away. Sun ceased its strikes. Ruaikn’s shadows turned to dust. The shadow soldiers faded out of existence. Ti-yaan fell to her knees. But Zi-mar stood. He lifted his leg to move, only his foot didn’t move with it. His right shoulder turned to ashes and crumbled down, his left hand came away from the body. He stood dumbfounded. Ruaikn drew his sword and slashed at him, shearing him in two.
Ruaikn flicked his fingers and Zi-mar burned, whatever was left of him, and a triumphant cheer went up. Ruaikn watched as Zi-mar turned to dust. He realized that Ti-yaan had managed to come there. He walked up to her.
“I feel… lighter. What did you do?” Ti-yaan asked. Ruaikn took her hand to help her stand. He felt the pain she was in. With a wave of his hand he took it away.
“Apologies. Did it hurt?” Ruaikn asked.
“No. But I think I am dying.” Ti-yaan said.
“No. You are not. I didn’t go to all this trouble so that you could die on me.” Ruaikn said “General, I trust you will hold my kingdom together until I get back.”
Naeer bowed. “I shall try my best not to let the old hags usurp your throne.”
Ruaikn grinned. He scooped up Ti-yaan in his arms, looked into her eyes. He didn’t see a slightest of the blue in them. “You are definitely not dying.”
© Ankur Gedam