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The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 17 Pt 1

09/19/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
Cherry Springs Nature Trail
Tondzaosha, Idaho

“Dammit, I didn’t mean now,” Amelia cursed, rushing after Alexandra as she moved through the opening.

Fredericks and Grimes came in on her heels and Harrison wasn’t far behind. Just before Van den Broeke made it through, the hole shimmered and retracted. Fredericks leapt through, barely clearing the much smaller opening.

Grimes wasn’t so lucky, the barrier closed around his leg, severing it just below the kneecap. The agent screamed, shrieking so loud that Amelia winced and grated her teeth. Blood splattered the ground on both sides and oozed down the wall which crackled and sizzled wherever the agent’s vital fluid touched.

He collapsed to the ground with a dull thud, moaning and clutching at his severed limb. Fredericks collapsed to his knees, hands grappling with his belt buckle.

“What are you doing?” Alexandra demanded, finger sliding under the nosepiece of her shades.

“I’m making a tourniquet. He’s going to bleed out and die if we don’t cut off the blood flow,” Fredericks answered between gritted teeth, sliding his belt from the loops with a single sweeping flourish of his arm.

Alexandra watched him work for several long minutes, her face an expressionless mask before she turned to Amy, a frown creasing her lips. “This is what Leoffa wanted, to isolate us and cut us off.”

“Why?” Amy asked, eyes never once leaving Fredericks and Grimes.

The tiny woman shook her head and frowned. “I don’t know, but if she’s confident enough to allow us in, it’s likely she doesn’t see us as a threat, or… she needs something from us.”

“I do not like the sound of that.” The agent winced and retrieved her gun from within her shoulder holster. She pulled the clip out, inspected it and slipped it back in place before peering back at the once-king.

To some carrying the weapon might seem pointless given the scope of her new abilities, but to the agent who was not yet confident with them, the familiarity of the weapon offered reassurance that she had yet to gain. At the very least, it could provide her with a backup should her powers fail her. She hadn’t toted it around all this time for nothing.

Fredericks glanced up at Amelia, Grime’s blood had stained his dress shirt and splattered his face, but with his suit coat acting as a bandage and his belt as a tourniquet the other agent stood a much better chance at surviving. “I can’t leave him like this. He’ll be an easy target to anyone who might come along.”

“Dammit,” Amelia cursed, slicking a hand through her mop of dark hair. “She wanted this and we walked right into her trap.”

“What’s our move?” Fredericks asked, craning his neck up to peer at her.

Amelia planted her hands on her hips and peered out through the barrier where the remaining AEGIS personnel and Ashley in her god-awful suit of armor had congregated.

“Ashley,” she spoke, but the suited figure remained motionless, peering into the glowing barrier.

“ASHLEY!” she repeated, cupping both hands around her mouth.

Ashley bit her lip and stepped forward, rapping her gauntleted fist against the sizzling wall. Nothing happened.

Amy clenched her jaw, threw her hands out, and extended her senses.

Before her the barrier was a shimmering luminescent wall of pulsating and thrumming power, but beyond it she sensed nothing. Brilliant explosions of energy exploded from her open palms, bursting with a brilliant flash of light each time one stuck the barrier, but her attacks only splashed against the surface.

Ashley opened fire from the other side, blasting the dome with a tiny canon that rose from the wrist of her gauntlet. A bright scarlet burst of light hit it, but that too proved futile. Several agents even pulled their weapons out and opened fire, but their bullets came ricocheting back toward them, forcing them to dive to the ground..

Well, shit.

Amy ground her teeth and fell to her knees at Fredericks side, glancing down at Grimes huddled on the ground taking short jagged breaths.

“I could heal him,” Amy said, pressing her lips together in a thin line. “I doubt his leg would grow back, but at least the wound could heal over.”

“Didn’t you say the last time you tried something like that, you passed out?” Fredericks said.

“No!” Grimes cried, grabbing Amelia by the arm. “You get that bitch.”

Amy nodded and rose to her feet, balling both fists at her side. It looked like it was going to be up to her. She looked around for the once-king and found her a short distance away, staring at the barrier with wide-eyes. “You know any way of getting through that thing?”

Alexandra threw her head back and forth. “Perhaps, with Waldere I could do it, but…” she trailed off biting her lips.

“Then we find Leoffa, and we make that little bitch take it down.” Amelia regarded her, fire smoldering in her eyes.

Alexandra nodded. “It won’t be easy.”

“I wasn’t expecting it to be,” Amelia said, peering down the nature trail which sprawled through the trees behind them. “It doesn’t look like we have much choice though, does it?”


A low growl rumbled from Ashley’s throat and through the voice modulator in her helmet it came out sounding like the shriek of something straight out of every child’s nightmares. She clenched her fists and pounded them against the barrier, but other than a tingle which ran through the armor and across her arms, nothing happened.

“Fuck,” she cursed and spun away from the dome, staring back out toward the assembled AEGIS personnel. One man took a step back upon making eye contact with her, but she ignored him. As ineffective as her armor was against the shield, she doubted the others would be a lot of help.

She sighed, bowed her head and mumbled Nabu’s name. “Any ideas?”

“Indigo Knight once found success penetrating a force field by charging the exterior of his suit’s armor plating to match the energy signature of the shield. I can’t say whether it will work with a so-called magical barrier, but it might be worth a try.”

“What about bringing some of our friend’s through,” she asked, waving vaguely at the AEGIS strike team.

“That wouldn’t be advisable, unless you want to fry their flesh to a crisp,” the AI answered, his voice dull and dispassionate, but somehow was filled with sarcasm.

“All right,” Ashley replied, turned back to the shield and eyed it, both hands on either hip. “I don’t see that we have anything to lose. Let’s give it a shot.”

“Oh yes, very good,” Nabu replied. “Now you should feel a slight tingle…”

Ashley sucked air in, as stinging hot pin-pricks cascaded up and down her body. She gritted her teeth against the pain and shivered. The young woman reached a hand out and touched the shield, grunting as the sensation began rattling around inside her head. When she pushed, the barrier wouldn’t give. Forcing out short breaths, she tried to pull her hand back, but nothing happened.

“Fuck,” she repeated her earlier curse. “This is just great.”

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 17 Pt 2

10/10/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
Cherry Springs Nature Trail
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Amelia crept forward, her bare feet sinking into the cold soil. She wriggled her toes and grimaced as several small clumps of dirt fell between her toes, but didn’t speak a word. One hand resting on her gun holster, she glanced back at Alexandra crouched just behind her.

Rather than take the trail, as Leoffa would expect, the once-king and the agent agreed that moving through the wilderness might at least give them a small measure of the element of surprise. To keep quiet, the pair had discarded their shoes and the tiny woman had shown Van den Broeke how to move through the brush heel to toe and to select her footing. Amelia’s mastery of the technique was far from perfect, but her companion had noted that it would suffice. Alexandra moved through the woods without even so much as a crinkle of a single leaf.

Amy swallowed, staring into the empty clearing before them. She could make out no movement save for the flicker of flame and billowing of smoke. A fire blazed in the center of the clearing, but one the like of which the agent had never seen. It burned with a brilliant violet iridescent intensity. A rod, ten feet tall, crowned with a gleaming crystalline gemstone was perched within its center.

Agent and former warrior-king met one another’s wide-eyed gazes, neither speaking but both certain they’d found that for which they were looking.

The crystal? Amy mouthed the words and arched an eyebrow.

The shorter woman pressed her lips into a thin line, regarded Amelia and shrugged. Amy stared into the other woman’s eyes for several protracted moments before shaking her head and inching forward. As she moved closer to the clearing, she put a hand up to shield her eyes against the glow of the strange fire.

She was less than four feet from the tree line when she spotted movement. A form, enshrouded in a dark robe, blond tresses billowing out from her hood, stood before the amethyst blaze, staff held before her, its gleaming gem shining with violet light, a mirror to that of the fire. Waldere dangled from her back, held there by an improvised scabbard of cloth and rope.

It seemed Leoffa had reverted to her prior form, the one which her shadow had worn during its assault of Brian’s mind.

Amy swallowed, peering back. Her eyes searching for Alexandra, but she caught no sight of the other woman. The agent cursed under her breath and scanned the immediate area. A slender figure, moved toward the unaware form of the sorceress.

Biting back a warning cry, Amelia tensed, squared her jaw and waited for the inevitable. Her eyes never left the once-king as the other woman inched forward. Mere seconds spanned an eternity, and the agent licked her lips, sweat beading down her forehead in rivulets.

Something was wrong… Amelia’s instincts were screaming at her she needed to take action. She opened her mouth to warn the smaller woman, but she was too slow. Alexandra threw out a hand, snatching at the sword, but her fingers passed into it as if moving through thin air and the sorceress’s dark form vanished.

“Shit,” Amelia cursed, lurching forward after the once-king, but it was too late.

Alexandra’s slender form rose, hovering in the open for several long seconds, before shooting across the clearing and slamming into an ancient oak with a flat thump.

The true Leoffa appeared stepping out from a cluster of trees, gem-topped staff glowing a vibrant amethyst, a perfect match for the violet blaze burning less than a dozen feet away. Her eyes were ablaze with the promise of violence as she rushed toward the agent.

A rush of energy shot out from the length of wood, but the agent was already moving. She threw out both of her hands, and luminescent power cascaded from her open palms. The two blasts met exploding out with a flurry of sparks so brilliant it forced both opponents to clench their eyes shut and avert their gazes.

A soft crunch of leaves and foliage sounded from nearby and Amelia lurched aside before her vision had even cleared. She coughed, a wave of heat washing over her, and she breathed in a shower of dirt.

The agent threw her arms out, swinging blindly, and grunted, sucking in air threw her teeth when her elbow connected with soft flesh. There was a yelp of pain and Amy spun toward its source, a shimmering wall of energy forming in front of her in time to deflect a third burst of energy that cascaded toward her in a bright shower of sparks.

Blinking dirt from her eyes, Amy pulled back one hand and reciprocated, waves of telekinetic force rippling through the clearing before her. Though her vision was still blurry, the agent glimpsed the sorceress soaring away. She did not let up. Tree branches snapped, and foliage tumbled away, scattering in every direction.

Leoffa dove forward, staff rearing back, and slammed it into the ground, using it to anchor herself against the agent’s attack. A soft amethyst glow swept across her body, and she stood upright, a smile creeping across her face as she regarded her opponent. Force rippled out from her in the form of a great violet bubble that swept everything aside in its wake. This new onslaught forced aside dirt, grass, rocks and even uprooted trees.

Amy braced herself, power rippling at her fingertips, but when the rippling torrent struck, it impacted her shield and sent her hurtling away. Her barrier scattered, dissolving into nothing and the agent twirled in the air before hitting chest-first with a dull thud. Amelia gasped between gritted teeth, fighting to bring air into her burning lungs and throbbing chest.

“Such power!” The sorceress’s voice rang out, and Amelia gritted her teeth and rolled onto her side.

Leoffa hurtled toward her, stopped just a few feet away, and slammed the end of her staff into the agent’s chest. Amelia’s form flew back through the air, violent throbbing pain rippling through her body. She rolled to the ground, branches jabbing into her sides with a series of sharp stabs and loud thwacks.

“Too bad, you have no idea how to use it.” Leoffa’s voice seethed with hatred as she raised her staff to strike again, but before she could attack there came a schwing of metal.

The sorceress spun around to face a slight figure. Alexandra, blood dripping down her scalp, had drawn Waldere from its sheath and was backing slowly away, eyes never once leaving her former lover. She had little in the way of upper body strength and she dipped the weapon down, dragging it as she inched away.

Leoffa’s lips twisted into a snarl and a pair of clawed hands came up, electrical energy sizzling out from her palms toward the once-king. Amy could do nothing to help her.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 17 Pt 3

10/24/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
Cherry Springs Nature Trail
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Alexandra tilted the sword straight up, hilt pointing skyward, and hunkered down, brandishing her weapon as if it were a shield. Raw power flew out from Leoffa’s fingertips and struck with a brilliant eruption of light. The former warrior king gritted her teeth and closed her eyes, summoning Waldere’s power.

Power crackled along the length of the sword as her attack struck. Waldere burning a brilliant bright white and the once-king released a breath she wasn’t even aware she’d been holding. The weapon had responded to her will.

Leoffa howled, lurching forward, and lunged at the sword, grappling each hand around either side of the crossguard.

“How are you still alive?” She demanded between gritted teeth, forcing the weapon into Alexandra’s chest. The former warrior king pushed back. Her tiny arms burned from the effort, and inch by inch she lost space to the other woman. Before long, the sorceress had forced her to the ground.

“At the very least you should be flat down in a hospital bed,” the sorceress growled, her voice coming out in a shrieking howl so guttural it hardly sounded human.

Alexandra didn’t answer, instead she squirmed, attempting to worm her way out from beneath her former lover, but Leoffa planted her knee atop her chest and leaned in close. 

“It’s just as well. The crystal requires a blood sacrifice to unleash it’s power. I had planned to kill my dear sister,” a vicious snarl stretched across her face as she craned her neck around to glance at Amy, who was still struggling to return to her feet. The sorceress’s staff glowed and a ripple of power streaked out, slammed into the agent and sent her tumbling into the air again. “But what better payment than the blood of a warrior king fallen from grace?”

The once-king’s blood ran cold. That was why the sorceress had allowed them in. Alexandra licked her lips and glanced at the crystal. Before she could speak Leoffa sucker punched her in the mouth and left her seeing stars.

“Don’t worry, you’ll live just long enough to see exactly what the crystal does, but by then it will be too late.”

“Really?” 

A low rumbling growl sounded from the tree line and the sorceress’s head snapped around to face the newcomer, lips curling back to display her teeth. 

“Ashley,” Alexandra mouthed the name, eyes widening. The young woman’s armor looked as if it had been through a long campaign across the fiercest most war-torn of regions. It was dung up and dented in more places than she could count, and it seemed a small miracle that the slender blond was even able to move. 

How the armor had undergone such radical damage in so short of a time the once-king couldn’t say, but her heart leapt into her throat at the mere site of her. Ashley held one gauntleted arm up. A long cylinder had extended from her wrist. 

“You move and I fuck you up, bitch.” The armored girl pronounced her augmented voice, all gravel and rage.

Leoffa froze, her face an empty mask as she regarded the newcomer for several long moments. No one spoke, and still she did not move. Then Amy rose. A soft groan escaped the agent’s mouth and the sorceress acted. She raised her staff, and a bright amethyst flash resonated from within the gem of her staff before she vanished.

“Dammit,” Amy cursed. Though she was on her feet, she was hunched over and one hand rested on the small of her back as a snap and a pop sounded from her spine. She stood bolt upright, eyes wide, and called out. 

“Ashley, the crystal!”

Ashley’s armored frame lurched forward, but before she’d made it halfway, a shrouded form appeared to interdict her. Leoffa’s staff swung out in an arc, and a wave of violet power rose through the air, sending her opponent hurtling away.

“Is that all you got?” Leoffa asked, planting the staff in the ground, power crackling across the soil in a broad swath.

“We’re just getting warmed up,” Amy responded, stepping forward, knotted fists glowing with power.

A clank of steel followed her pronouncement, and Amy watched Ashley step forward out of the corner of her eyes as a slow smile crept onto her face. 

Alexandra came next, sword held up with both arms, and planted the weapon blade-first into the soil, holding it upright before her. No one who beheld her would ever mistake her for imposing, but none would miss the glint of determination gleaming in her eyes. For the first time, Amelia caught a glimmer of the old Kruhl and felt a shiver work its way down her spine, realizing how fearsome he must have been on the battlefield.

Leoffa cast her arms out, staff rising into the air of its own accord. Fire lanced out from it in a broad sweeping arc and molten power blew out from her arms, burning through the air toward the trio. Amy brought her shield up, arms barred across her chest. When the attack struck, the barrier flashed with a burst of bright energy and the blasts bounced back straight toward the sorceress.

Leoffa threw her left hand out, only just bringing a barrier up in time to absorb the blasts. Amy dropped her own shield and rushed forward, hands alight and crackling with power.

Ashley seized the opportunity. Leaping up and rocketing across the clearing, she zoomed through the open sky toward the crystal. The armored hero extended an arm, hands mere inches from the stone, but Leoffa was too fast. The sorceress let out a shrieking growl and whipped a hand out.

A tendril of violet energy whipped out and curled around the other woman’s greave-encased ankle. The sorceress pulled her arm back and sent her opponent soaring in the opposite direction. Leoffa’s eyes did not linger, instead she returned her attention to the agent and once-king.

Amelia was pressing the attack, glowing fists pounding on the magic wielder’s shield. Alexandra remained frozen in place, Waldere now alight with swirling pink and blue tendrils which shifted and churned around the weapon at dizzying speeds, but never quite touched the blade. The tiny woman’s eyes had turned milky white and she stared off into the distance as if looking upon something no one else could see.

Leoffa clenched her teeth, grabbed her staff from the air, and sent a sizzling bolt of energy hurtling into Agent Van den Broeke. The dark haired woman careened away and slammed into a tree less than a dozen feet away. The sorceress slammed her focus into the ground, splitting it and sending sparks of electricity sizzling out in every direction.

A blast of power shot out from her staff toward Alexandra, but before it struck, the once-king threw her head back and a rumbling, ferocious lion’s growl escaped her lips. Pure iridescent light encased her, then swept out across the clearing in all directions.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 17 Pt 4

10/31/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
Cherry Springs Nature Trail
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Brilliant bright light enveloped the once-king, as power rippled out from the sword in all directions. Though her opponent shielded her face and looked away, Alexandra’s eyes pierced the brightness with no trouble. She was aware of it, but it neither obscured her vision nor caused her any discomfort.

She tilted her head up, and let loose a loud, ear-splitting roar, the like of which she would never have managed with a human throat.

“How is this possible?!” Leoffa demanded through the luminescence, her voice echoing as if in a cave.

Alexandra had only ever used Waldere as an instrument of war. It was a powerful weapon that could deflect or even negate almost any magical attack, and was also more than a match for even the finest of swords. Yet, she’d long suspected she’d never managed to unlock its full potential. As the power of the sword coursed through her body, she knew she’d been right.

At last the light faded, and she glanced down at herself, the hairs along her spine stand on end. She no longer bore the form of a tiny human woman, but the one which she had worn until coming to this world, that of Kruhl son of Wurdan, King of Eirdon, and Master of Waldere.

Again, he was whole. He stood fully seven feet tall, sword of magic clutched within his hands. Here was the king of old, the warrior who had united the scattered Assar tribes, and defeated the armies of the Sorcerer Odalrik. Here was the warrior with the strength to wield a weapon of such awesome power as Waldere.

He snarled and threw himself forward, moving at a speed that belied his massive stature. He was almost on top of his opponent when she vanished with a burst of violet flames.

“Leoffa,” Kruhl said his voice low and rumbling. “Enough with these games. Cease these coward’s tactics. I know you are a warrior at heart. Face me as any warrior would.”

Leoffa answered with a shriek of rage, appearing behind him with a second fiery eruption and an accompanying blast of power directed at his back.

Kruhl jerked away, but the beam scorched his side and he growled, rounding on the sorceress, sword arching down. Leoffa rolled away and swept her staff out, slamming it into the back of the Assar warrior’s leg. Flames lanced out from the tip and he howled, again slicing his weapon down, but his former lover was already back on her feet.

She tossed the staff aside and slipped her hands inside her cloak, producing a short sword from within. The once-king snarled, already bringing his blade around to meet her, but she ducked out of the way and slipped around to his side, slashing at his exposed midriff.

Kruhl howled, clutching at the injury, and barred his teeth, letting loose an ear-piercing growl.

Kruhl was fast for his size, but Leoffa was faster. He might have had the advantage in sheer physical power and size, but it would do him little good if he couldn’t land a blow. Having trained with and fought beside him for many years, she was familiar with his technique. It gave her an edge that few would have over the once-king.

As Leoffa swirled away, the Assar warrior backhanded her, sending her reeling to the clearing floor.

Of course, Kruhl also had an edge. Not only was he familiar with her fighting style, he’d had more opportunity to practice. While Leoffa had been honing her skills with her magic, Kruhl had been training with the sword. He was an even more capable adversary than he had been when they’d last known one another, and that was saying something.

Kruhl rushed forward, blade sweeping toward the ground where his opponent lay, but again Leoffa was too fast. She twisted aside and the once-king’s blade sliced into the dirt.

Leoffa circled around him, blade slicing at his flanks, but the warrior king pulled the blade free in a shower of dirt and spun around to confront her, both of their blades clashing. Kruhl pressed forward, forcing her back and pinning her with his boot. He kicked her weapon from her grip and leaned in close.

“I’ve always loved you, Leoffa. My feelings have never changed. We can still be together,” Kruhl said, a slight quiver to his voice. He thought of their night together when he’d thought her Amelia’s sister and his heart raced. “It doesn’t have to end like this.”

The sorceress’s hand went for her neck and the amethyst crystal which the Assar warrior had all but forgotten about. A wave shot out, and Kruhl stepped back to avoid it. Although the shot landed home, nothing happened and the once-king realized his mistake at once. It had been another illusion.

Leoffa stood up, one arm stretched out. Her staff zoomed across the clearing and soared into her open palm. Power crackled from the stone and smashed into Kruhl before he had a chance to raise his sword.

The Assar warrior doubled over, Waldere dropping from his numb hands, his whole body convulsing in pain.

“You betrayed me and left me for dead! You really think I would forget that?” Leoffa shrieked between barred teeth. She stepped closer, and the glow intensified. Kruhl collapsed, unable to do anything but flail about on the ground. He wanted so desperately to tell her that he’d never meant to attack her, but even were he able to speak, he knew anything he said would fall on deaf ears.

“Now,” she said darkly, a second darker bolt of energy sizzling out and shot toward the Crystal of Ban-Sher’i. “It’s time for you to die.”

Just when all seemed lost, a dark form jerked forward, slammed into the sorceress and knocked the staff out of her palms. Amy locked her hands around the other’s wrists, planted her knees into her rib cage and glowered down at her while holding her in place with her telekinesis.

“Uh, Amy?” Ashley’s guttural growling voice asked.

Amy clenched her jaw, glanced at the other woman who was crouched about a dozen feet away, and followed her gaze. The staff was still ablaze, sending dual beams out at Kruhl and the crystal.

Leoffa took advantage of the distraction and kneed Amy. The agent rolled over, clutching at her side and groaning in pain. The magic-wielder stumbled to her feet and started for her focus, but Amelia threw a hand out, catching her by the ankle. Her adversary toppled over, fists swinging.

“Ashley!” Amelia called between blows. “Do something!”

The second the words left her lips, Ashley’s armored form surged past, rocketing not toward the staff, but toward the crystal and the violet bonfire which contained it.

Leoffa’s attacks grew more frantic. Instead of fists, she mauled the agent with her clawed hands, tearing through skin and actually drawing blood with several swipes. She struck the agent across the face with her elbow. Amelia’s hand went limp, and the magic-wielder lurched back up, dashing toward her staff.

When she was less than four maybe five steps away, a loud cwrack sounded and she froze. She spun around on the balls of her feet to face Agent Van den Broeke, who’d drawn her gun.

The agent opened fire again, and her opponent dove for the staff, her hand outstretched. When her fingers touched the polished wood, a crackle of energy burst out and the beam which had encompassed the crystal, flickered and died.

She let out a shriek and twisted around, eyes scanning the clearing. Ashley hovered above the amethyst inferno, the Crystal of Ban-Sher’i clutched in a gauntleted hand. The fiery eyes of her grotesque faceplate seemed to burn with malevolent glee.

Leoffa lashed out, sending an amethyst beam of power surging toward the armored hero, but Ashley dove forward and the attack zoomed past, dispersing into the open sky.

A roar sounded from the opposite direction and again the sorceress swirled around, realizing too late, that by attacking Ashley she’d released the once-king from her spell. Kruhl sprang to his feet and charged. She brought up her shield, but Waldere sliced right through it. Violet fire spilled out from her staff, but the sword absorbed it.

There was a glint of steel and Leoffa’s fallen sword was back in her hands. She struck out, barely managing to deflect Kruhl’s attack. She dove forward, sweeping out with her blade, but the once-king deflected it with ease and parried with an attack of his own.

Leoffa dove down, and Kruhl’s blade sliced through the air mere inches from the top of her head. Leoffa growled and rolled away as the warrior’s weapon came slashing down. Though she was an adept fighter, she could not win in a direct sword fight, Kruhl was too strong and his reach too long.

The sorceress howled and sprung back up. She dropped her sword, and instead, snatched her staff up and threw it above her head. Fire lanced out in every direction around her, burning the ground in a wide swath which consumed the dry brush all around him. Kruhl slowed eying the flames, his lips curled back from his muzzle as he emitted a low warning growl.

Seizing the opportunity, Leoffa struck out, an amethyst burst cascading around a tree. She jerked her arm up and there came a rumbling sound from the earth and a series of loud cracks as the gnarled old tree, whose trunk was twice as wide around as Kruhl’s chest, rose from the ground. With a snarl and a vicious cackle, she flung her magical focus out, and the tree hurtled toward her enemy.

Leoffa had just exposed one of Waldere’s most glaring flaws. The tree was already moving, and the sword could no sooner halt its forward momentum than it could perform a song and dance routine. The tree slammed into Kruhl and sent him hurtling away and into a copse of trees.

“Now,” the magic-wielder said, spinning around to face Ashley, Leoffa’s staff pulsating and crackling with power. “I’ll take that crystal back.”

Ashley met the other woman’s gaze, tightened her grip around her prize and raised her arm canon. The sorceress gritted her teeth, and hurled a bolt of power at the armored form, but her target spun away and the blast struck an old fir tree, splintering it into oblivion.

Leoffa brought her staff forward to attack again, but her arm stopped short. It was as if some invisible force had grabbed on to her. She turned her head and watched as Amelia van den Broeke stepped into sight. The agent threw her hands out, and the sorceress’s stomach lurched as the ground fell away and she soared into the air.

Amy spun, raised her hands, fixed her gaze on the tree which had pinned Kruhl in place and with a simple flick of her wrists sent it zooming away. Kruhl slumped over, a groan escaping his muzzle.

Sizzling power crackled and hit the agent, sending her slamming into the ground. Leoffa hobbled forward, using the staff to prop herself up. A blast of energy swirled out from the gemstone, but Kruhl pulled himself up and raised Waldere, which was still clutched in his hands, and moved forward, gaining speed with each step.

Blasts of amethyst fire followed in his wake, but his blade absorbed the only ones that came close to striking. When he drew close, the sorceress raised her staff to block a blow that would have hit her chest and sent fire rippling out in a semicircle.

Waldere blocked most of it, but even the weapon’s magic could not contain all the fire. Flames dances all around them, and Kruhl howled in pain and fury as they licked his sides.

Kruhl pulled his arm back, and his weapon swept out, slicing through her neck. She threw out more fire, but though the attack burned the fallen king, it was too late.

The Assar warrior watched her head fall from her shoulders, and her body crumple to the ground. Then, he fell to his knees, huddled over her fallen form, threw his head back and roared, tears streaming down his muzzled face. Light flared from the sword and enc0mpassed his towering from, but he paid it no heed.

It was over.