LostMature

 

The revenant's target was Sarrus. As it charged it brought the tip of it's sword up, aiming for the mage's heart. But the last spell had taken everything Sarrus had left in him, and as the revenant charged his eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed to the ground. The sudden fold was enough to put the revenant off of it's attack. The blade only glanced the top of Sarrus' shoulder as he fell and the revenant was forced to sidestep to keep from tripping over him.

It recovered itself and whirled around, turning it's attention to Lucan and Ganner as the two put distance between themselves, aiming to flank the creature from either side. It was Ganner that drew it's complete attention. With a snap of his fingers and a mumbled word he conjured a spark of flame from his fingertips. It was a parlor trick, something beginning apprentices learned to light candles with, but it was enough. The eerie green eyes that shone from the skull of Mercer's corpse focused on him. Lucan saw his opportunity and, as the revenant lunged towards Ganner, loosed an incantation. 

The hallway reverberated as the boom of a thunderclap was loosed within it's confines, the full force of the shockwave lifting the revenant's feet from the ground and flinging it back down the hallway. As it glanced off a wall and slammed back down to the floor Lucan fell to one knee beside Sarrus. "We can't keep this up," he said, speaking loudly over the ringing in his ears.

"I know," Ganner agreed grimly. 

A harsh, two toned laugh echoed down the corridor. The revenant was standing again, it's left arm obviously broken. It raised the sword, tip pointing somewhere between the two mages. "These mortal bodies can take a surprising amount of punishment before they fall apart," it told them, momentarily eying it's shattered arm. "But what's more surprising than that is just how little it takes to kill you." It took a step forward, torn lips stretched into a carnival grin. "Do you think you can dismantle this shell before I poke a few small holes in yours?"

Sarrus groaned and stirred, eyes fluttering open. They were unfocused, but Lucan could tell he was trying to regain his faculties.

"You're awfully talkative for a demon," Ganner said, stepping towards it. Lucan saw his lips twitching - another incantation on the way. He didn't get a chance to finish it. The revenant sprung forward again, and the unfinished incantation died on Ganner's lips as he hurriedly dodged the attack. His back slammed against a wall, blade slicing through the fabric of his robes but missing flesh. The revenant carried the motion through, momentum allowing it to reach out with it's broken arm to grab Lucan by the front of his own robes as he stood and tried to back away. The energy from Ganner's almost finished incantation coalesced and grounded itself on a nearby door, which burst into flames. 

There was a terrible cracking and snapping of broken bones as the arm tensed, preparing to throw Lucan across the room. It was halfway through the motion when the damaged limb finally gave out. With a sickening noise muscle and tendons ripped away from bone. It separated from the rest of the revenant's body, fingers still clinging tightly to Lucan's robes as he went toppling to the floor. 

The revenant spared a moment to look disdainfully at the stub that was left of it's arm. Ganner seized the opportunity and grabbed the thing's wrist with both hands, trying to wrest the sword from it's grasp. He was unprepared for the creature's sheer strength. With a savage growl it lifted him bodily and slammed him against the wall. His head went crack against the stone wall, his vision exploding with a riot of colors, but he refused to let go. If he could just hold on long enough... Crack

The revenant's expression changed from feral rage to concern. It dropped Ganner, letting his slide to the floor, and whirled to face Lucan. Frost was already starting to form on it's cold skin, clear ice crystals forming delicate latices over dead flesh. It got one step away from Ganner before the spell took full effect, a thick coating of ice encasing the creature. 

The effort was enough sap what little strength Lucan had left. He sank to the ground. "No," he wheezed, darkness closing in on his vision. He saw Sarrus pushing himself up on his hands and knees, still spent from his previous incantation, and he saw Ganner slouched against the wall, hand on the back of his head as blood flowed down his neck. "Sarrus," he warned, "The spell won't hold... you need... to..." 

Sarrus watched as Lucan collapsed into unconsciousness. Rising unsteadily to his feet, he took in the situation. The demon was already starting to thaw, and both of his fellow mages were in no shape to do anything about it. Neither was he, for that matter, but he was all they had left. Weaving like a drunk he reached Ganner and helped the mage to his feet, pulling him away from the thawing demon. Looking into his eyes Sarrus saw that Ganner had a concussion. 

"Ganner," he said hoarsely, "Ganner, listen to me. Get Lucan out of here, do you understand?"

"I... yes," Ganner said, fighting the effects of his injury. "Out. Got it. Wait... what're you-?"

"Just get him out!" Sarrus shouted. Without waiting for another response he turned and staggered towards the revenant. Another incantation would probably kill him, he knew. The crust of ice on the revenant cracked. It managed to move it's head, fixing it's gaze on Sarrus as he reached it and grabbed hold of it's shoulders. 

"Lucan," Ganner said unsteadily, dragging his fellow mage down the corridor, "Lucan wake up. We've got to get out of here. Lucan? Shit." He saw Sarrus standing there, hands anchored to the revenant's shoulders, speaking softly to it. Already he could feel the air in the corridor begin to change, getting heavier. As he drug Lucan towards the stairs his ears popped, and he knew what was coming next. 

Sarrus stared into the revenant's eyes as he carefully spoke his last incantation, gathering and shaping as much magical energy as he could. Ice cracked again, and the revenant's one good arm moved. "What are you doing?" it asked, sword falling from still frozen fingers. It tried desperately to move, and Sarrus knew the cracking noise wasn't just the sheen of ice breaking. The revenant was destroying itself, trying to flex bone and muscle still frozen nearly solid. He continued speaking, softly, calmly. When he was finished he smiled.

The magical energy he'd stored released, guided by his efforts, reshaping the reality of the world around it. As it left his body it took the last of his life with it. His body hadn't yet hit the floor when the very air of the hallway ignited in a conflagration hot enough to warp the very stone of the Tower.

Flame chased Ganner down the stairs. It licked eagerly at his robes as he hauled the unconscious Lucan over his shoulders. He staggered and nearly fell, turned an ankle trying to steady himself and pitched forward. The two mages landed in a heap at the bottom, and Ganner counted himself lucky. It only felt like he'd broken his arm... had they been much higher, he probably would have broken his neck. Through the fog of his concussion it seemed like a minor irritation, at best. He checked Lucan and found his relief that the other mage was still alive. He spared a moment to catch his breath, and Lucan groaned.

"Where?" Lucan asked, looking around groggily. 

"Bottom of the stairs," Ganner mumbled vaguely. "Have to go. Sarrus said to go."

"Sarrus?" Lucan pulled himself into a sitting position and looked around. "Is he...?"

"Yes," Ganner said. He groaned and leaned back against the wall. He closed his eyes, only to snap them open again as Lucan slapped his face. "Ah! What was that-"

"Keep awake," Lucan said tiredly. "I'm not carrying you."

"Way to return a favor," Ganner huffed.

"I'll repay you later," Lucan groaned, standing. "If you pass out now neither of us will make it out."

Leaning on each other for support the two mages wove their way through the Tower. Gunshots reached their ears, random and chaotic, accompanied by the shouts of men in combat. They hurried their pace as much as they could. They passed the spot where Dasker and Gilead should have been. They found the two mages missing, in their place were dozens of dead soldiers. They caught up to their comrades in the Tower's entrance hall. Gilead was surrounded by soldiers as shadow demons swarmed through the air. The soldiers wielded swords and rifles as others waved torches at the enemy. And there among them was another mage, not of Marsten's guild. "Esme!" Ganner shouted, pulling Lucan along in a hobbled run. 

"Ganner?" Esme asked, turning to face him. "Oh gods!" she exclaimed when she saw the two. She closed her eyes, concentrated on an incantation, and a halo of bright light pulsed out from her body, driving back the shadows. "What happened?" she asked breathlessly when they reached her. "Did you get Olian? Where's Sarrus?"

"No and dead," Ganner replied. "And I... I'm finding it hard to concentrate."

"How many did you bring?" Lucan asked, looking around at the swarming shadow demons. There were also, he noticed, a great many dead men scattered across the entrance hall. Far more than stood fighting. 

"As many as we could," Esme told him, "But evidently not enough. They let us get inside but ambushed us. We've barely been able to hold our own, and every time we've tried to advance they cut us to pieces at the stairs. We had to retreat here and fortify. We hoped, if we killed enough of them here..." 

"No," Lucan shook his head. "They'll just keep coming until you're all dead. It's over. The Tower's lost." 

Esme nodded tightly. "Captain Reynolds!" she called out, and one of the soldiers looked hear way. "We have to leave!"

"Right there with you, ma'am!" Reynolds shouted back. "Ok men, let's go! Fall back to the courtyard!"

The End

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