The City of Locked Doors, Chapter five, page sixMature

Every shadow erupted into motion, churning, coalescing, and darkening as hundreds of Shadow-Soldiers materialized in the darkness, their steel blade plumed and their armor gleaming with obsidian shards. Other creatures also took shape; hulking trolls, towering centaurs, and black Malakhim. The dead soldiers held their postures for a second and then spun, opening fire on the shadows.

The dead rabble swarmed through and over the soldiers, crashing on the Shadow-Thralls like the tides of an ocean on rocks. They fell upon them with claws and teeth, but were cut down easily, their old bones splintering beneath the weight of steel swords. The dead soldiers proved stronger; they were younger dead, young enough that their souls had returned when Brigadier called. They spun and dashed, stabbing with their bayonets where they had to, and firing when they could. The bullets whistled through the air, blasting apart the rabble in great showers of bone and pounding through the Shadow-Thralls to little effect. Bayonets and sabers proved more effective tools, for they could be used to sever the appendages from the Shadow-Thralls, rendering them useless or into Shadow-Debris. Meanwhile, the greater Shadow-Thralls rampaged almost uncontested.

The Shadow-Trolls smashed through the clustered dead, shattering dozens with solitary sweeps of their arms and crushing more underfoot. Hundreds of bullets were fired into their flanks to no effect and even the sabers failed to do more than scar their steely hides. Then came the centaurs; charging through the amassed dead with silent abandon, trampling them under hoof and smashing them to pieces even as their black scythes flashed and reaped. Finally, there were the Dark Malakhim, soaring high overhead on steel wings, their brows and hands glowing with dark stigmas. Their voices rang out in an achingly horrific song, unleashing a storm of twining Shadowmancy upon the embattled hosts. Yet, the dead never perished, they simply rose again to crawl along the ground on shattered limbs to scratch and bite at the Shadow-Thralls. They ceased to struggling only when every appendage, limb, and skull had been ground to dust.

Noir stood in the midst of this chaos, a garden of formless shadow tendrils writhing up from every available shadow to pulverize the dead. The already bleached forest was growing rapidly lighter as he continued to draw upon the shadows, causing them to wane increasingly shallow.

You have to give her credit, she chose her battlefield well.

Yeah, this would be so much easier if I wasn't restricted to small constructs and spells. He scowled and began striding through the conflict toward Brigadier.

You could just ignore common sense and obliterate everything; that's still an option.

He shook his head and sighed. This is a pain in the ass, but that's all it is. A Shadow-Blade swept up from his personal shadow and erased a dozen skeletons. And a little annoyance is more than worth a couple extra days of anonymity.

You won't stay anonymous for long if you keep killing that poor Dorian fellow. You might even get a reputation for being had to work with; there's already talk about having Gregorio just follow you around.

That's a good idea, it would at least make everything run smoother. It's kind of bad news for Dorian though.

Yeah, that poor sod is going to spend so much time dead, hehe.

He cleared the last couple dead standing before him with a grasping miasma of shadows and stepped from the churning conflict to face Brigadier. She crouched on her throne with a pistol in one hand and the saber laid across her knees. Her lips curled as she saw him and her eyes tightened, almost concealing the blue veins that now corrupted her once crimson eyes, "So you made it through." Her voice came out in a guttural snarl.

He leaned to one side, cocking his head, "It wasn't that difficult, Brig; still, I have to give you credit."

She snarled again and surged to her feet, "Ha, you actually think you're winning." She cocked the pistol and aimed it at his head, the muzzle only a few feet distant, "I thought one of you too might survive to come after us, so I made some preparations for both of you. You see this?" She waggled the pistol before, "I got Radiance to make this and a whole satchel of bullets. He was surprisingly amenable after I told him this was to kill you." She grinned and squeezed the trigger.

Noir spun to the side, a wall of shadows erupted from his feet and encircling him as the bullet burst from the barrel in a flare of light, its molten core and golden exterior illuminating the whole battle scene for an instant. It struck the shadow wall and imploded, hurling bits of molten light and dissipating shadow everywhere. The second bullet, fired from a hidden pistol, whizzed through the scattered shadows and exploded on Noir's shoulder, tearing it from his body.

 Noir straightened and glanced at his obliterated appendage as the shadows coalesced upon it, reforming his arm. What a nuisance.

The End

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